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NICOLAS PARTY (B. 1980)
Where Christie’s has provided a Minimum Price Guar… Read more
NICOLAS PARTY (B. 1980)

Rocks

Details
NICOLAS PARTY (B. 1980)
Rocks
signed and dated ‘Nicolas Party 2016’ (on a label affixed to the reverse of the frame)
pastel on canvas
220 x 100 cm. (86 ¾ x 39 ¼ in.)
Executed in 2016
Provenance
The Modern Institute, Glasgow, UK
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Literature
Nicolas Party: Pastel, exh. cat., Karma, New York, USA, and The Modern Institute, Glasgow, UK, 2017 (illustrated in colour, n.p.).
Special notice

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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.
Where Christie’s has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie’s therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party who agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. If there are no other higher bids, the third party commits to buy the lot at the level of their irrevocable written bid. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. Christie's compensates the third party in exchange for accepting this risk provided that the third party is not the successful bidder. The remuneration to the third party may either be based on a fixed fee or an amount calculated against the final hammer price. The third party may also bid for the lot above the irrevocable written bid. Where the third party is the successful bidder, the third party is required to pay the hammer price and the buyer's premium in full.
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Lot Essay

Classically trained, Swiss-born artist Nicolas Party is best known for revitalizing the traditional genres of portraiture, still-life and landscape. In his work, Party strips his subjects of superfluous details to question what makes an image recognizable. Less concerned with accurate portrayals, he plays with shape, colour, materials and composition to create works that transport viewers to a dreamy world of surreal figuration. Extensively informed by art history, Party explores the boundless possibilities of various media including painting, sculpture, pastel and installation. In the process, he turns his sitters, objects, and landscapes into emotive and seductive symbols that redefine the notion of representation. Since graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 2009, Party has been the subject of major solo exhibitions at institutions worldwide, including M WOODS, Beijing (2018); the Magritte Museum, Brussels (2018); the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2017); and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016).

Rocks (2016) is an enigmatic pastel landscape, distinguished by Party’s signature vibrant palette and flat, graphic imagery. Set against a muted grey-blue background, layers of ambiguously shaped rocks alternate loosely between a mix of soft and bold hues. Perhaps owing to his background in 3D animation and graffiti art, Party creates an illusion of weight and volume without compromising the flatness of his composition. Smaller, rounder forms lie innocuously at the bottom of the canvas, while towering hills emerge from behind like grossly distorted, inverted funnels. Despite its seemingly grandiose subject matter, the work exudes a lightness and humor redolent of artists such as David Hockney and René Magritte.

Deeply attuned to the lessons of art history, Party translates the tradition of landscape painting into contemporary terms. When asked about his practice, Party remarks, “I’m trying to work with subjects that are not original. Subjects that have been, and still are, painted all the time” (N. Party, quoted in F. Tattoli, "Talking with the Swiss painter Nicolas Party", Fruit of the Forest, December 2016). Rocks, as a subject, have long been central to the history of art – particularly Chinese landscape painting – and in their form and function have remained virtually unchanged. Although referencing the past, the mountainous forms in Rocks are divorced from period and place, caught in a state of limbo between past and future. It is precisely this timeless quality that fascinates the artist: wrestling with the limitations of his medium and the weight of history, Party creates a work that feels simultaneously familiar and new.

In keeping with the rest of his practice, Party does not create his landscapes from life. Instead, he draws upon a wide but selective vocabulary of figurative elements derived from his imagination. Like the late nineteenth-century painter Henri Rousseau, who often depicted ahistorical landscapes of rich foliage populated with animals, he transports his viewers to a fantastical universe. Other key art historical influences include Pablo Picasso, Félix Valloton, Ferdinand Hodler and Giorgio Morandi. The latter’s celebrated still-lifes have been particularly inspirational for Party in terms of their quietly focused compositions. This lineage is palpable in the present work, which exudes a sense of deep mystery from its seemingly simple execution.

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