Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel

1 May–28 June 2015. Tues–Sun,10am–5:30pm

Exhibition |Press Release | Events | Artist's editions

Inverleith House House was delighted to present Nicolas Party, Boys and Pastel, the first major solo echibition in a UK public gallery by the Swiss artist (b. 1980, Lausanne. Lives and works in Brussels, Belgium).


Image courtesy of the Artist and The Modern Institute/ Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow.

Exhibition supported by The Modern Institute/ Toby Webster, Ltd., ProHelvetica, the Swiss Cultural Fund and the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation.

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Installation view, Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Installation view, Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Installation view, Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Installation view, Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Installation view, Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Installation view, Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Installation view, Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Installation view, Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Installation views, Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2015. Images by Michael Wolchover.

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Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel

2 May – 21 June

Press Release

Inverleith House is delighted to present Nicolas Party, Boys and Pastel, the first major solo exhibition in a UK public gallery by the Swiss artist (b.1980, Lausanne. Lives and works in Brussels, Belgium).

For Boys and Pastel, Nicolas Party has transformed the formal Georgian interior of Inverleith House into a contemporary ‘gesamtkunstwerk’with the most expansive installation of his decorative wall paintings and charcoal drawings to date. Spanning every inch of the seven gallery spaces, these patterned murals act as a framing device and wondrous stage set for a new series of pastel compositions. Running concurrently in the lower ground floor gallery is a programme of Party’s rarely seen short films which provide further insight into the artist’s unique aesthetic language.

Through Party’s gregarious, distinctive and stylistically dexterous paintings and drawings, the total environment created by Boys and Pastel directly responds to the interior architecture and mirrors the surrounding botanical context of Inverleith House, ushering in elements of the Garden to animate the stillness of the gallery space. Each room takes on its own thematic discourse, like chapters in an absurdist narrative whole. In room one, thick swathes of solid, flat colour present primal, rocky landscapes, suggesting arrid, scorched earth; whilst in the following gallery tree trunks, billowing ice-cream daubs and clashing shades adorn the walls. In other rooms, dismembered fingers swipe colour across the walls as if interacting with oversized touch screens; and elsewhere, dense charcoal forests and vibrant leaves of colour evoke bucolic scenes. These environments are integrated with anthropomorphic fruits and trees, fantastical townscapes, and one of Party’s signature motifs - the coffee pot. They are also populated by a cast of strange and watchful characters that confront the viewer with a disarming fixed gaze - the boys and pastel.

Whether full, immersive tableaus or idiosyncratic repeating designs, Party’s stylistic versitility expresses a complex and ongoing investigation into colour, gesture and media. These arresting environments hold a visual immediacy that cannot help but elicit a visceral response.

However energetic and untroubled by the anxieties of painting these tableaus may first appear, they nonetheless belie Party’s continuous meta-investigation into the very nature of painting itself; its conventions, traditions, veiled hierarchies, prejudices and interior classification systems. Party’s work can be read as a rich collage of referents and signifiers carefully appropriated from the history of art, design and craft. Borrowing from canonical art historical subjects such as portraiture, still life and landscape, Party selects and reimagines familiar, even hackneyed motifs – fruit arrangements, pastoral scenes, the coffee pot - reusing them in his work in a parodic and irreverent way.

It is through the appropriation of certain themes and gestures that broad influences can be identified, with landscapes deriving from David Hockney; colour palettes borrowed from the Fauves, or perhaps Pierre Bonnard; and painted collage referencing Matisse’s cut-outs. Party’s work is therefore at once homage, quotation and reappropriation, demonstrating a deep respect for, but also a critical attitude to the history of art.

This process of appropriation also points to contemporary anxieties regarding authenticity, image reproduction and a culture mediated through the computer screen. This is made explicit in the recurring marks in Party’s work which overtly emulate the digital ‘brushstrokes’ of creative computer programmes such as Photoshop and MS Paint. In deliberately creating angular shapes and artificial-looking lines, Party points towards the presence of computer agency in authoring the work. This subtle convention shifts the focus from the act of painting itself to the tools of contemporary artistic production, transforming the wall into a substitute for the depthless surface of the computer screen - a comment on the work of art in the digital age.

Boys and Pastel exists within a liminal space somewhere between art history and the digital screen. With this exhibition, Party has captured the contemporary zeitgeist, but also delves much deeper than that, suggesting a future for painting that conflates the physical and immaterial world.

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Artist’s Biography

Nicolas Party (b. 1980, Lausanne, Switzerland) lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. Party studied at the Lausanne School of Art (2001-2004) and at the Glasgow School of Art (2007-2009).

Selected solo exhibitions include: 'Two Naked Women', Kaufmann Repetto, Milan (2015); 'Pastel et nu', Centre culturel suisse, Paris (2015); 'Trunks and Faces', Westfälischer Kunstverein, Muenster (2014);  ‘Landscape’, Kunsthall Stavanger, Stavanger (2014); ‘Pastel’, Gregor Staiger, Zurich (2014); ‘Still Life oil paintings and Landscape watercolours’, the Modern Institute, Glasgow; ‘Dinner for 24 Dogs’, Salon 94 Freemans, New York (2012); ‘Still Lifes and Big Naked Women’, Gregor Staiger, Zurich (2012); ‘Still Life, Stones and Elephants’, Swiss Institute, New York (2012); ‘Still Life, Gold and Peeling Paint’, ReMap 3, Athens (2011); and ‘Dinner for 24 Elephants’, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2011).

Selected group exhibitions include: 'Prix Mobilière', artgenève Art Fair, Geneva (2015); 'Three Elephant’s Day', Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn (Performance with Serge Vuille) (2014); '/prospekt/ Funktion / Disfunktion – Kunstzentrum Glasgow', Neues Museum, Nürnberg; 'Uri Aran, JWDB, Nicolas Party', Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York (2013); ‘CARPETS OF DISTINCTION’, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh; and ‘Painting Show’, Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2011).

 Exhibition Curator: Chloe Reith

With thanks to The Modern Institute / Toby Webster Ltd., the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Swiss Cultural Fund UK and the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation.

Inverleith House is supported by Creative Scotland. Exhibition Preview supported by Boë Gin.

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Artist's Talk: Nicolas Party

Sunday 3 May, 2 - 3pm | Free

For Boys and Pastel, Nicolas Party has transformed the formal Georgian interior of Inverleith House into a contemporary ‘gesamtkunstwerk’ with the most expansive installation of his decorative wall paintings to date, spanning every available inch of the seven gallery spaces, and also encompassing the stairwells and corridors of the House. These patterned murals act as a framing device and wondrous stage set for a new series of pastel compositions and charcoal drawings delivered in Party’s unique aesthetic language. Party will also present a selection of rarely seen short films within a specially designed screening space.

Join the artist for a tour of the exhibition Boys and Pastel focusing on the themes and motifs presented in his work.

Click here to listen to Nicolas Party's artist talk from Sunday 3 May 2015.

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Workshop Poster

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Curator's tours: Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel

Friday 15 May, 29 May and 12 June.

Curators Paul Nesbitt and Chloe Reith presented fortnightly tours of Boys and Pastel.

Every second Friday throughout the exhibition, 2–3pm

Free and open to all, no booking required. 

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Sink performing at Inverleith House

Friday 14 May | Botanics Late Tickets £14

As part of Botanics Late, remowned Edinburgh music collective Sink presented a live acoustic performance in response to the exhibition.

Sink at Inverleith House

Sink at Inverleith House

Sink at Inverleith House

Performance views, Sink in Nicolas Party's Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, 2105. Images by Alistair Millar.

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Nicolas Party : Boys and Pastel from arts-news on Vimeo.

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