NICOLAS PARTY (B. 1980)
NICOLAS PARTY (B. 1980)
NICOLAS PARTY (B. 1980)
NICOLAS PARTY (B. 1980)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more LE JEUNE, A COLLECTING LEGACY
NICOLAS PARTY (B. 1980)

Landscape

Details
NICOLAS PARTY (B. 1980)
Landscape
signed and dated 'Nicolas Party 2016' (on the reverse)
pastel on canvas
47 1/4 x 27 3/8in. (120 x 69.5cm.)
Painted in 2016
Provenance
Xavier Hufkens, Brussels.
Private Collection, Belgium (acquired from the above in 2016).
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Interim Acting Head of Department

Lot Essay

Spanning more than a metre in height, the present work is a sumptuous example of Nicolas Party’s celebrated pastel landscapes. Taking their place alongside his portraits and still lifes, these vivid, otherworldly visions represent a vital strand within his practice, drawing together the legacies of Surrealism, biomorphic abstraction and European landscape painting. Here, four sinuous trees shoot up from a pale, icy ground, each crowned by a deep green canopy. Mountainous forms loom large in the background, silhouetted against a deep purple sky. Party’s use of pastel is focused and precise, his colours and contours wrought with an almost painterly intensity. Executed in 2016, the work demonstrates his enduring interest in the natural world: a theme showcased in his 2017 exhibition sunrise, sunset at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., and more recently explored in a series of works dedicated specifically to trees. ‘Throughout history, trees have been present in so many stories, legends, and religions’, he explains. ‘They are one of the most important elements in human culture’ (N. Party, quoted in statement for ‘Nicolas Party: Canopy’, online exhibition, Hauser & Wirth, 2020).

Born in Switzerland in 1980, Party was deeply inspired by the landscape of his native country, and its representation in the work of nineteenth-century Swiss Romantics such as Félix Vallotton, Ferdinand Hodler and Hans Emmenegger. It was a genre with which he continued to engage during his early days as a graffiti artist, and the conflation of the two modes is keenly felt in the present work. Its Alpine vista, infused with a sense of the Romantic sublime, is reduced to a set of bold, graphic forms and electrifying colour fields. At the same time, its surreal, near-anthropomorphic quality witnesses Party’s longstanding admiration for the work of René Magritte, inviting particular comparison with the latter’s metamorphic depictions of trees and forests. ‘One of the first things that you draw as a child are trees’, Party explains. ‘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’ (N. Party, quoted ibid.).

Since 2013, pastel has been Party’s signature medium. His interest was sparked by seeing Pablo Picasso’s 1921 pastel Tête de femme in an exhibition: ‘I bought the postcard’, he recalls, ‘and went to the art store the next day to buy a pastel kit. I had never tried working with pastel before and started to copy Picasso’s portrait’ (N. Party, quoted in R. Vitorelli, ‘Interview Nicolas Party’, Spike, no. 44, Summer 2015). His oeuvre has served to elevate the medium, establishing it as a vehicle for hard-edged geometry and vibrant, saturated colour. Unlike the fluid, malleable properties of oil paint, he believes, pastel requires a more immediate and direct commitment, allowing little room for alteration or change. ‘You can layer and layer, but you can’t start over’, he explains. ‘… Nothing dries or is wet—it stays exactly how it is’ (N. Party, quoted in T. Loos, ‘Artist Nicolas Party Revives the Language of Pastel’, Cultured Magazine, 17 March 2019). This rigour is palpable in the present work: Party’s lines are clean and controlled, his surface free of slippage and redirection. It is a thrilling, hyperreal vision of the world we know, its enigmatic subject alive with crystalline beauty.
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