Nicolas Party begins with objects that are familiar to us in our daily lives and reworks them in a way that heightens or exaggerates their presence. Coffee pots, cups, cutlery, geometric shapes, plants and portraits – both human and animal – often appear in his work, which includes painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking and curatorial projects.
Party continually tests the boundaries of process and technique; oil paintings may take many months to complete, while charcoal or paint landscapes can fill vast walls in only a matter of days. Rocks transform into fruit, and animals shift into furniture and tableware. Each of Party’s subjects is depicted with a formal elegance, based on imagination rather than observation. But Party also works with an interest in artists that have come before him, including the painters Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), Giorgio Morandi (1890–1964) and David Hockney (born 1937).
Party’s background as a graffiti artist gives his art both a particular sense of modern design culture and an ability to effortlessly manipulate scale and context. Moving from interior to outdoor projects and from small to large scale, he does so with a lightness of touch that energises what are often highly traditional subjects such as still life and portraiture. Many of Party’s exhibitions feature brightly coloured wall paintings formed of repeated patterns. They command space and connect the different forms of work on display. In turn they also remind us of the artist’s physical presence within the gallery. Increasingly his work actively involves people. He has held dinner parties for which he designed a menu, tableware and furniture (later displaying these elements as sculpture), and invited children to the gallery to play with his handmade ‘art props’. These recall historic works such as artist Francis Picabia and composer Eric Satie’s collaboration on the 1924 ballet Relâche or David Hockney’s 1975 stage set for the opera The Rake’s Progress at Glyndebourne.