‘Sottobosco’ Resurfaced: Nicolas Party Builds New Worlds

For his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, the artist explores the forest floor through his signature pastel palette.

  • Feb 25, 2020

Comprised of new paintings, sculptures, site-specific murals, and an architectural installation, ‘Sottobosco’ transforms our Los Angeles gallery through both physical intervention and trompe-l'œil.

Taking its title from the Italian word for the undergrowth of a forest, the term ‘sottobosco’ also denotes the sub-genre of 17th century Dutch still life painting devoted to botanical and zoological life in nature’s darker regions. For Party, Los Angeles was the perfect place to explore these themes as a city frequently cited as being far more complex than its' surface suggests.

‘With 'Sottobosco' I had this idea of trying to kind of paint in places of the forest, but more generally into the world that the light doesn't really go and it's getting darker. Things that happen in those places are maybe different, more intriguing, more scary for sure.’—Nicolas Party

From the outset, Party knew he was interested in obfuscating the architecture of the site, describing part of the installation as a 'gallery inside the gallery.' Coupled with the elements of trompe-l'œil on its exterior, the illusions of exotic wood and marble aim to recall the Renaissance, where painting and architecture were invariably bound. To that end, Party also includes two site-specific murals at the east and west ends of the space allowing him to work on an entirely different scale, and to create works that have a limited life-span. The artist likens the experience of putting the exhibition together to that of a child building a world with a piece of paper: ‘When you're a child, as soon as you draw this circle on a piece of white paper, this piece of paper that is nothing to you in the first place starts to become a landscape. Then you do a tree, and that's it. You just created your entire Hollywood movie. Then you can just put a few lines and dinosaurs come in. It's the most simple thing to do.’ –

Nicolas Party: ‘Sottobosco’, is on view at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles 13 February – 12 April 2020.