Josh Mongeau is a New York City-based artist, classically trained at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Mongeau is an art director, illustrator, graphic designer, and conceptual artist who has worked for everyone from Porsche and Victoria’s Secret to Henri Bendel and the Beijing 2008 Olympics. His work includes what might now be considered “traditional” Abstract Expressionist style and progresses to incorporate digital media, content, and perspectives.
Born and raised on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Mongeau was an avid sailor and competed on a national level. His family supported his early creativity, especially his grandmother, the Impressionist painter Alice Mongeau. She nurtured his talents by allowing the young child to develop under his own accord. With the help of his family, he was able to attend the prestigious Pratt Institute. At 21, he earned his BFA with honors, majoring in Advertising/Art Direction in the Communications Design department.
“The education I received at Pratt Institute was exceptional; they pushed the students very hard, tons of very intense classes at once, forcing you to produce lots of work and developing our artistic skills. … we would draw from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and that’s where I learned that the first six hours are just warm-up; the real drawings come out in the last three.”
Mongeau draws inspiration from master painters such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, with nods to the greats of Abstract Expressionism. His painting Klimpt is a gorgeous marriage of these artists.
On a field of shimmering color and warmth reminiscent of Klimt, Mongeau introduces the action and viscosity of paint. However, he then completely upends our expectations of the composition by hanging the painting at odds with the direction of that paint. This usurpation causes us to question our expectations of what we view and to wonder at the authority of the painter. Is our painter capable of defying the laws of gravity? Like Klimt’s point of view in The Kiss, Mongeau challenges the viewer to examine the way that we see things.
In 2013, Mongeau partnered with musician Philip Kressin to develop imagery for Kressin’s Neon Legion band and album. Mongeau created large scale works to accompany specific tracks on the album. He started with six to twelve paintings in acrylic, oil, ink, pen, and graphite, then used photographs of the paintings to re-contextualize the artwork digitally.
“A truly unique manner of taking his physically laborious paintings, digitizing and expanding them compositionally … in a way which only modern technology could meld traditional technical execution ….” – Mayson Gallery, Ronni Ramirez 2013
Mongeau’s paintings incorporate epically strong images with subtle twists, complementing Kressin’s music in a compelling way. “He took over the idea of the retro-futuristic,” Kressin says. “He was inspired by the Art Nouveau style of art and impressionism – but also modern elements that are very techy, electronic and modern. It works perfectly together.”
Especially in this digital age, viewers have changed the way that they process visual stimuli, and Mongeau fully embraces that in his work. The composition seems complex and yet instantaneously comprehensible, reflecting our acclimation to digital information, multimedia, and our global community.
Mongeau’s work draws from his classical training and introduces us to new ways of seeing, influenced in part by our digital age. It also compels us to reconsider “traditional” introspection in order to include these new perspectives. A selection of Mongeau’s work is available in KUKUN’s Shop.