Nicolas Party, Trees (2020), via Karma

Currently on view at Karma’s New York exhibition space, artist Nicolas Party is presenting Watercolor, a solo exhibition of around fifty recent watercolor paintings by the artist that underscores his commitment to the medium and his interest in expanding its grammar and possibilities. The show, which marks a specific focus in the artist’s broader output, offers a fascinating look into Party’s more subtle and small-scale compositions.

Nicolas Party, Trees (2020), via Karma

Party’s perennial subjects are familiar yet uncanny: the sunsets and treescapes in Watercolor are transformed through vibrant jewel-toned palettes and unorthodox compositions. His colors are saturated and evocative, more focused on optical effects than verisimilitude. Elongated forms and smooth textures distill landscapes to their essential geometry. Party’s idiosyncratic approach conjures an immersive and surreal environment that is at once steeped in reference and extraordinarily distinctive. The trees, which the artist describes as “nature’s alphabets,” are presented here as a series of variations and elaborations, embellished with bright colors and an imaginative hand that places various species of trees in close proximity, creating studies not only in the form and depiction, but equally in the classification of each subject. An emerald forest of overlapping foliage is fashioned from stains and blots of pigment.

Nicolas Party, Sunrise (2020), via Karma

Similarly, the clouds on view are offered an amoeba-like, miasmatic form, melting into their backgrounds and creating hazy, swirling compositions. Allowing he watercolors themselves to move and swirl on the canvas, the works are something of a work both with and against the natural and alchemical properties of the medium, the brush guiding the paint as it settles over the surface and soaks in. Rather than present the works as static, studied depictions, they are equally a record of their own creation, works that for a moment, were living, swirling masses of material/

Party’s mastery unites his technical sensibility with his thematic approach. The compositions themselves are alive, shimmering upon first glance. Their forms waver between the natural order of things and the spontaneous, hidden grammars of the unconscious. The show closes on January 8th.

– D. Creahan

Read more:
Nicolas Party: Watercolors [Installation View]

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