Nicolas Party was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, spending his formative years surrounded by the lakes and mountains of the Swiss countryside. After a sharp trajectory of success, Party now lives and works in New York and Brussels and is a darling of the contemporary art world. Party studied at the Lausanne School of Art before taking an MA at The Glasgow School of Art.

Party developed a distinctive style very early on in his practice. His canvases and 3D works incorporate precise figurative forms within the recognisable genres of portrait, landscape and still life. However the adjective “otherworldly” is often associated with Party’s work. This “otherworldiness” is part formed by Party’s ability as a colourist, critics often cite the instinctive and bold use of colour across the majority of Party’s output. He also has the knack of delivering the uncanny without losing this pleasing decorative edge. The pictures are lyrical, undemanding and beautiful, yet they remain utterly unique and sometimes a little disquieting. His portraits, trees, birds and fruits belong to a candied vocabulary of simplified shapes and forms whose lustre and detail create a delightful surface world where any depth or meaning is hard to penetrate. It is this engagement in mood over realism or scrutiny that leads to a slightly unsettling feeling when viewing a whole Party show. All the faces begin to look the same and the landscapes tumble and fall into each other. Canvases sit on top of murals awkwardly. The all-encompassing, super-generalisation of content: the stones, fruit, heads, pots, interiors, exteriors, walls, objects and paintings merge into one language of beautiful forms. This seductive style strips the subjects of their history and leaves them beautiful, but essentially bare. However, this is to the work’s credit. Party is intentionally picking saturated subjects to paint and rejuvenate, his achievement is in reanimating historical subjects that have become weighed down by centuries of high-art meaning and association.

As well as Swiss artists such as Vallottan and Hodler, Party also cites arch-modernists such as Guston, Avery and Giorgio Morandi among his influences. Yet, given his studiousness, Party never takes himself too seriously, as Chris Sharatt writes:  “although they display a seriousness about paintings craft and traditions art historical references come thick and fast, from Jean-Baptiste-Siméon-Chardin to David Hockney there is a lightness and humour in the works.” As Party explains: “I am trying to find the moment where an element that is very recongisable, like a tree or a bush or a cloud… switches into what we call a shape”

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