Nicolas Party Ponders Our Relationship With Nature in HK Exhibition

Aspects of Chinese literati culture, such as the five elements — wood, fire, earth, metal, and water, pepper Party’s paintings

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5:35 PM HKT, Wed June 8, 2022 1 mins read

What is humankind’s relationship with the natural world? Is humanity part of nature, or has it become more of a threat? New York-based Swiss artist Nicolas Party probes these questions in his first solo exhibition titled Red Forest at Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong.

The exhibition is comprised of 13 landscapes and portraits and will run from June 30 until September 24, 2022.

Nicolas Party Landscape Art in Red Forest

The exhibition’s title is twofold: While Party has long been fascinated by forest fires, the artist was also moved by something art historian Bénédicte Ramade said.

After paying Party’s other exhibition in Montreal a visit, Ramade penned a review of L’heure Mauve (Mauve Twilight). According to Ramade, Party’s use of bright purple and red hues in his paintings of twilight are similar to the colors in the sky when a forest fire occurs.

This very comparison inspired Red Forest, a reflection on man’s relationship with the environment.

Party, whose works are highly influenced by the beautiful Swiss landscapes of his childhood, has long harbored an interest in the natural world. In fact, this love of nature led him to study at the Lausanne School of Art before pursuing an MFA at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland.

Nicolas Party Landscape

Informed by a range of experiences and employing a breadth of artistic mediums, including pietra dura, ceramics, installation works, and sculptures, Party has developed his own abstract yet specific visual language in portraiture and landscape painting.

His works often serve as commentary on humanity’s pivotal role in the current climate crisis.

“Landscapes often depict either a glorification of our conquest of our environment or nostalgia for a paradise that existed before we destroyed it. We could say that the greatest landscape paintings both contain ideas and question the viewers,” reads a comment by Party in the exhibition’s press release.

Nicolas Party Landscape Art

Recurring themes in Party’s portraiture include human figures engulfed in rock-like formations. These concrete sculptures captured in soft brush strokes are reminiscent of mountainous regions in the Swiss countryside or Chinese scholar’s rocks.

Coincidentally, another aspect of Chinese literati culture can be found in many of Party’s paintings: The five elements, namely wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.

In traditional Chinese philosophy, each of the five elements is inexplicably linked to one another. For example, fire is quenched by water and fueled by wood. This interconnectedness serves as a reminder that the world is linked and constantly changing.

All images courtesy of Nicolas Party

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