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    "I don’t have much interest in what could be labelled as ‘reality.’ I’m more interested in the signs, symbols and codes we’ve created for reality."
    —Nicolas Party

     

    One of just two pastels presenting an architectural landscape, Houses is a rare example showcasing Nicolas Party’s distinctive visual language. Executed in 2015, the present work featured in the artist’s first major institutional show in the United Kingdom at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh later that same year. Rendered as simplified geometric shapes in saturated color, Houses oscillates between still life and landscape, representation and abstraction—at once evoking the familiar and the surreal.

     

     

    The present work installed at Nicolas Party, Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, May 2 – June 21, 2015. Image: Courtesy of Inverleith House, Edinburgh, Photo: Michael Wolchover, Artwork: © 2021 Nicolas Party

    The present work installed at Nicolas Party, Boys and Pastel, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, May 2 – June 21, 2015. Image: Courtesy of Inverleith House, Edinburgh, Photo: Michael Wolchover, Artwork: © 2021 Nicolas Party

     

    Notably foreshadowing Party’s preoccupation with arches, Houses eloquently captures the influence of classical architecture on his practice. Recently in 2020, the artist further elucidated in reference to the present work, “I did two pastels a while ago with arches, the only two pastels with houses. I still want to go back to that, but I haven’t yet. The Karma show [in 2017] was the first time that I used arches, and as soon as I did, I was like, ‘Oh my God, that's very powerful and it works extremely well.’”i

     

    "Arches have been used, obviously, in a lot of temples or churches and they make you feel very different when you cross through them in those spaces...I really do believe that can affect you, along with the colors, basically the forms and shapes in different aspects of space."
    —Nicolas Party

     

    [left] Giorgio de Chirico, Italian Square with Politician (Piazza d’Italia con uomo politico), 1950-1955. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome, Image: Mondadori Portfolio / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome [right] René Magritte, La Poitrine (The Breast), 1961. Private Collection, Brussels, Image: Herscovici / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    [left] Giorgio de Chirico, Italian Square with Politician (Piazza d’Italia con uomo politico), 1950-1955. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome, Image: Mondadori Portfolio / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome [right] René Magritte, La Poitrine (The Breast), 1961. Private Collection, Brussels, Image: Herscovici / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 C. Herscovici / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

     

    Drawing upon the Convent of San Marco in Florence decorated by Fra Angelico, the geometric curvatures of arches are now immediately recognizable across Party’s compositions and installations—a device he deploys to coalesce the past and present in Houses. “When you look at an artwork from the past, you feel that time becomes much more elastic. Time and history become a ‘zone’ where you can travel,” the artist expressed.ii “At the end it is exactly what being an artist means: exploring the incredible, imaginative power of the human mind.”iii

     

     

    Giorgio Morandi, Still Life, 1948. Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna, Image: © DeA Picture Library / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome

    Giorgio Morandi, Still Life, 1948. Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna, Image: © DeA Picture Library / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome

     

    Best known for reviving pastel as a contemporary medium, Party plays with form, space, and color to reinvigorate the traditional genres of landscape, still life, and portraiture. Here, Party’s biomorphic, volumetric rendering of the houses recall the tranquil, focused compositions of Giorgio Morandi and Milton Avery. At once redolent of his own still lifes of pots, Houses exemplifies the fascinating visual and conceptual discourse on reality and perception that permeates Party’s oeuvre.

     

     "I like simplicity that has an inherent complexity...How many masterful pieces are made of the simplest of subjects?"
    —Nicolas Party

     

    A classically trained, Swiss-born artist with a background in graffiti art, Party channels his unique sensibility in creating his surrealist figurations that evoke the likes of David Hockney, René Magritte, and Giorgio de Chirico. “The super-bright colors, the very clear lines and effective shapes, these are all things you do with graffiti,” he explained.iv Set against a white backdrop and maroon-brown ground, edifices of dynamic scales and shapes alternate between Fauvist and earthy hues. Here, the artist presents a masterful dialogue on the power of color in constructing a composition with optical force. As he expressed, “A color by itself doesn’t mean anything. It’s only the relationship between them that makes something happen in a painting.”v Transforming reality into illusory visions on canvas, Party’s crisp lines and nuanced tones present the suggestion of volume without ceding the effect of flatness, suffusing life into the dreamlike composition.

     


    i Nicolas Party, quoted in Sasha Bogojev, “Nicolas Party: A Hug From On Top of You,” Juxtapoz, Fall 2020, online.
    ii Nicolas Party, quoted in Rita Vitorelli, “Interview Nicolas Party,” Spike Art Magazine, no. 44, Summer 2015, online.
    iii Nicolas Party, quoted in Manuela Martorelli, “Nicolas Party,” ODDA Magazine, 2018.
    iv Nicolas Party, quoted in Catherine Hong, “Nicolas Party’s Audacious Sense of Color,” Surface, December 4, 2019, online.
    v Nicolas Party, quoted in Elena Bordignon, “Two Naked Women: Interview with Nicolas Party,” ATPdiary, March 24, 2015.

    • Provenance

      The Modern Institute, Glasgow
      Private Collection, USA
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Edinburgh, Inverleith House, Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel, May 2 – June 21, 2015

    • Literature

      Nicolas Party, Nicolas Party: Pastel, New York, 2017, n.p. (illustrated)

Property from an Important East Coast Collection

42

Houses

signed and dated "Nicolas Party 2015" on the reverse
soft pastel on linen
58 3/4 x 39 1/4 in. (149.2 x 99.7 cm)
Executed in 2015.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $1,724,000

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
New York Head of Department & Head of Auctions
+1 212 940 1278
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2021