Nicolas Party: In the Studio

New York-based Swiss Artist Now Represented by Hauser & Wirth

  • Jun 26, 2019

Born in Lausanne in 1980, Nicolas Party is a figurative painter who has achieved critical admiration for bold and otherworldly 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 exhibitions spaces in order to construct enveloping experiences for the viewer.

Nicolas Party, Landscape, 2015 © Nicolas Party. Courtesy of the artist and Kaufmann Repetto, Milan/New York. Photo: Andrea Rossetti

Installation view, ‘Nicolas Party: Arches’, M Woods, Beijing, China, 2018 © Nicolas Party. Courtesy of the artist and M Woods

The artist’s childhood in Switzerland imprinted upon him an early fascination with landscape and the natural world, and the influence of his native country places Party firmly within the trajectory of central European landscape painting. Points of reference in his work include celebrated 19th-century Swiss artists Félix Vallotton, Ferdinand Hodler, and to the figurative watercolor painter Hans Emmenegger. While Party eschews notions of direct influence from established historical movements, one can find within his works a 21st-century synthesis of the sorts of impulses and ideas that fueled Symbolism, Surrealism, and The New York School, the compositional strategies of Rene Magritte and Giorgio Morandi, and the visions of such self-taught artists as Louis Eilshemius and Milton Avery. Nicolas Party is now represented by Hauser & Wirth, in collaboration with Xavier Hufkens in Brussels, Kaufmann Repetto in Milan, Modern Institute in Glasgow, Galerie Gregor Staiger in Zurich, and Karma in New York. Party's first project with Hauser & Wirth will be a solo exhibition in Los Angeles in 2020.