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Nicolas Party
L’heure mauve

12 February—16 October 2022
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada

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L’heure mauve (Mauve Twilight) brings together watercolours, pastels and sculptures by Party, including about 20 recent works yet to be exhibited. The landscapes, portraits and still lifes, at once fantastical and subtle, illustrate the complex and often inextricable ties that bind humans to nature. The whole is integrated with temporary murals created in oil pastels, such that the Museum’s galleries become the canvas onto which this visual artist and muralist – cum curator and exhibition designer – expresses his poetic imagination. In all, it is a celebratory as well as solemn meditation on nature, its representation in art and its future.

The artist’s creations are set against some 50 works from the Museum’s wide-ranging collection. Painstakingly chosen by the artist, they include paintings by Gustave Courbet, Ferdinand Hodler, Henri Fantin-Latour, Nicolas Poussin, Otto Dix and Lawren S. Harris. Incidentally, the title of the exhibition references an iconic painting by Canadian Symbolist painter Ozias Leduc. “Mauve twilight” – that fleeting moment when the fading light casts purple hues over the landscape – resonates powerfully with Party, who sees in it an aura of mystery and beauty. Together, the works and the setting of this large-scale exhibition thus weave a touching and hopeful story about the fate of the natural world.

Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1980, Nicolas Party got his artistic start as a graffiti artist before pursuing a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (2004) and a Master of Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art (2009). His work has recently been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions, including at the MASI Lugano (2020), the FLAG Art Foundation in New York (2019), the M WOODS Museum in Beijing (2018), the Musée Magritte in Brussels (2018) and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. (2017). He lives and works in New York and Brussels.

Drawing on his vast knowledge of art history, Party weaves a singular and profound oeuvre that exalts pictorial conventions. Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, Giorgio Morandi, Rosalba Carriera and Félix Vallotton, he revisits the classic codes of art, abandoning faithful representations of nature in favour of an original, phantasmagorical exploration of colour and shapes.