For his first solo exhibition with Hauser & Wirth in New York City, Nicolas Party transformed the first floor of the gallery’s 22nd Street building. New oil-on-copper paintings, cabinet compositions, signature pastel paintings and two monumental site-specific murals will immerse visitors in Party’s practice, which simultaneously celebrates and challenges longstanding and cherished conventions of representational painting through his uniquely singular, subversive style.
Upon entering the exhibition, visitors will encounter the first of two expansive pastel murals––a forest in flames. Party is known for conceiving his exhibitions as comprehensive environments, incorporating architectural interventions and extending the palette of his paintings across the gallery’s white walls. Heightening the powerful effects––formal and psychological––of his subject matter, Party has chosen to steep the surrounding walls in a rich maroon. Just beyond the pastel mural hangs a group of portraits featuring enigmatic figures paired with an animal that obscures their body. These creatures were inspired by the work of radical 19th-century French realist painter Rosa Bonheur, an icon of women’s independence who put the living world at the heart of both her life and work, placing animals at the center of her practice.
In contrast to the large-scale, enveloping pastel works on view, intimately scaled cabinet paintings sit upon marble trompe l’oeil pedestals and oil-on-copper paintings hang throughout both rooms of the exhibition. Here Party once again contemporizes all but forgotten classical mediums; just as his signature pastels achieved the height of popularity in the 18th Century, oil on copper was a fashionable and prevalent alternative to canvas during the mid-16th Century, while cabinets were most commonly made as altarpieces in medieval and Renaissance art. Party uses these mediums to express his recent fascination with pre-historic creatures of the Mesozoic Era, the second-to-last era of Earth’s geological history, in the oil-on-copper paintings and one cabinet.
Sat 16 Sep 2023, 3 pm at Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street
Tue 26 Sep 2023, 6 pm at Hauser & Wirth New York, 69th Street
June 1, 2023 to March 3, 2024 at The Frick Madison
The Frick Collection presents a site-specific installation by the Swiss-born artist Nicolas Party (b. 1980) that combines Rosalba Carriera’s Portrait of a Man in Pilgrim’s Costume with an ensemble of pastel works of Party’s own devising.
Installation view of Nicolas Party and Rosalba Carriera at Frick Madison, looking left Photo: Joseph Coscia Jr.
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, an idiosyncratic choice of medium in the 21st-century, and one that allows for exceptional degrees of intensity and fluidity in his depictions of objects both natural and manmade. Transforming these objects into abstracted, biomorphic shapes, Party suggests deeper connections and meanings. His unique visual language has coalesced in a universe of fantastical characters and motifs where perspective is heightened and skewed to uncanny effect.In addition to paintings, Party creates public murals, pietra dura, ceramics, installation works, and sculptures, including painted busts and body parts that allude to the famous fragments of ancient Greece and Rome. His brightly-colored androgynous figures vary in scale from the handheld to the monumental, and are displayed on tromp l’oeil marble plinths of differing heights that upend conventional perspective. Party’s early interest in graffiti and murals—his projects in this arena have included major commissions for the Dallas Museum of Art and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles—has led to a particular approach to the installation and presentation of his work. He routinely deploys color and makes architectural interventions in exhibition spaces in order to construct enveloping experiences for the viewer.