Nicolas Party

‘Throughout history, trees have been present in so many stories, legends, and religions. They are one of the most important elements in human culture.’ —– Nicolas Party


Nicolas Party, a New York-based Swiss artist known for his familiar yet unsettling landscapes, portraits, and still lifes rendered in soft pastel, will introduce a new body of work in watercolor in Hauser & Wirth’s latest online exhibition, opening Thursday 7 May.

This exhibition follows Party’s recent, acclaimed ‘Sottobosco,’ which opened at the gallery’s Los Angeles space this past February. In contrast to the lush paintings and sculptures that created an atmosphere of a dense, richly alive forest floor, the works in ‘Canopy’ find Party looking upward to an alternative natural space – to the canopy of treetops – where light and air expand. His new series of 11 atmospheric landscapes, all created by the artist while quarantined in upstate New York, embrace watercolor’s intimacy, fluidity, and animate qualities. Here, Party resynthesizes the genre of landscape painting, expressly drawing inspiration from the original use of watercolor in landscapes by Charles Burchfield, George Grosz, Georgia O’Keeffe, and William Turner.

In his latest paintings for ‘Canopy,’ abstracted, transitional forms invite viewers to consider the relevance of the landscape painting genre in a contemporary context, in a moment where the wonder of nature also provokes complex associations. “Throughout history, trees have been present in so many stories, legends, and religions,” says Party. “They are one of the most important elements in human culture. Today, they are also one of the primary reminders of our fears and anxieties for the future. How many trees are being painted today? And how many trees are burning?”

Party’s distinctive vision of the natural world derives equally from his relationship to the art historical canon and his childhood explorations in Switzerland, which instilled within him a deep love of nature’s endless arrays of color, pattern, and form. Recalling his early experiences in the outdoors as they relate to the expansive effects of his new watercolors in ‘Canopy,’ he observed, “One of the first things that you draw as a child are trees. The unsteady lines on the paper find a structure in the form of a tree. A line topped with a circle structures the page, creates a space, shows us where the sky is and where the ground… Trees are nature’s alphabets. The infinite flexibility of the visual language of the tree makes its execution endlessly playful.”

Party will follow ‘Canopy’ with a commission from RxArt to create a 207-foot-long mural for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, and a major survey exhibition at MASI Lugano is forthcoming.

Selected images

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About the artist

Born in Lausanne in 1980, Party is a figurative painter who has achieved critical admiration for his familiar yet unsettling landscapes, portraits, and still lifes that simultaneously celebrate and challenge conventions of representational painting. His works are primarily created in soft pastel,…

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Current Exhibitions

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