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Nicolas Party in the Garden Room / November 23 2016 – January 14 2017

As part of the Antinori Art Project – a programme of operations in the contemporary area dedicated to visual art and the artists of today – Marchesi Antinori has, for the first time, opened the doors of Palazzo Antinori in Florence onto contemporary art with a special project by Swiss artist Nicolas Party (Lausanne, 1980).

The opportunity for the Florence exhibition was provided by the purchase of a work by Nicolas Party titled “Giant Fruit”, which officially became part of the Antinori family’s permanent collection in the Chianti Classico winery (located at Bargino, near Florence).

To celebrate this important addition, the Antinori family has decided to present the Florentine general public a new special project, “Nicolas Party in the Garden Room”, curated by Ilaria Bonacossa, in the historic headquarters of Palazzo Antinori, running until Saturday 14 January 2017.

Nicolas Party presents a series of works made from 2013 to 2016. It comprises a group of 6 paintings – 3 new watercolours and 3 stone-sculptures – that show how the Still Life genre is, more today than ever before, alive and capable of transmitting emotion.

The artist ironically borrows a classical iconography. His works show how the values of composition and chromatic balance have been reinvented, completely transformed and translated into a contemporary spirit, conserving the efficiency of his visual examination.

Nicolas Party’s intention of readjusting the limits between art and decoration makes his works in specific spaces even more cogent, and this is why it was decided to present his works in the ‘boschereccia’, a small hall in Palazzo Antinori that was completely frescoed in the late 18th century with views depicting a bucolic, forested landscape. The action becomes a declaration of intent, and it is entirely fitting to the artistic approach developed by this young talent.

The idea of transforming the frescoes representing a Tuscan landscape into a sort of wallpaper becoming a background for the artist’s watercolours was derived from the fact that Nicolas Party often paints the background before placing his works on the walls, a technique that invites reflection on the relationship between a distinct, one-off art piece and decoration, and between perspective and two-dimensionality.

Ceramics and cutlery frequently feature in Nicolas Party’s art, denoting the artist’s interest in historical precedents, recalling painters such as Giorgio Morandi. However, the artist’s paintings and pastels, hallmarked by proportions that are often outsized, are brought to life by brilliant, lively hues, capable of altering, transforming and activating all sorts of surfaces, including stone.


Interview with Nicolas Party
By Elena Bordignon


Antinori Art Project presents “NICOLAS PARTY IN THE GARDEN ROOM” a exhibition curated by Ilaria Bonacossa (Until 14 Genuary 2017 – Palazzo Antinori, Piazza degli Antinori 3, Firenze)

ATP: Your collaboration with Antinori Art Project started with the exhibition Still-life Remix, where you realized “Giant Fruit”. In relationship with this big work – that became part of Antinori collection – could you give me a definition of painting still life?

Nicolas Party: There are two main ways of naming this specific genre of painting in different languages. I really like the two different words and what they tell us about what this specific type of painting is trying to explore. In English, German or Flemish we say “still life”. In French, Italian or Portuguese we say “natura morta” which translates in English into “dead nature”. Those two words, “ still life” and “natura morta”, are made up of two words that are somehow in opposition. In “still life” the word “still” suggests an idea of a pause in the time line. In opposition, the word “life” evokes a movement in time. The same opposition happens in the other word “natura morta”. “Natura” suggests an endless timeline and “dead” evokes an end in the timeline. Trying to put together two opposite concepts into a single object, a painting for exemple, is a fascinating and ambitious idea.

ATP: In the historical headquarters of Palazzo Antinori in Florence you present a series of paintings. With which criterion did you choose it? Which relationship does exist between the pastels and the rocks-sculptures? 

NP: I’m showing three pastels and three rocks paintings for this exhibition. A pastel of a purple cat, another of purple fruits and one of two purple pots. It show some of my subjects of interest. In addition to that, I’m showing a few painting stones. When I show different works together in a same space I’m simply trying to create an interesting conversation among the objects. For example I like the idea that the painting stones could speak to the pastel with the purple fruits.

The apple stone
 – I might look like an apple, a fruit that nature made in a few month an that will disappear in a few days. But I’m a stone…I’m so old and I took thousands of years to have this funny shape! This apple look is only a trompe l’oeil, some make up on my skin”
 The Pastel with the purple fruits says
– I get you apple stone… I’m also a surface trying to mimic sexy curves to attract some viewers. They’re looking at my curves imagining things.
 The apple stone
– I know ! Look how I’m apple painted, a bit too suggestive if you ask me

ATP:In your research the connection between art and decoration is very strong. How do you determine and structure these two aspects of your work? 

NP: I did my art school in Lausanne in Switzerland. The artist John M Armleder was a very important figure there and I think he influenced a lot of young artists. How he is exploring the boundaries and what defines decoration and Art was and are still very inspiring questions for me. Questioning those boundaries and trying to understand the different hierarchy that culturally exist between art and decoration or design is very interesting to me. Today for example saying that an artwork is very decorative can be perceived in a very negative way. Decorative is perceived as something superficial and superciality is not well valued at the moment. It’s also interesting to see how the word “decoration” has changed status in the last century. In 1953 Matisse called one of his major late work “ large decoration with masks”. It would be interesting to see how many artists are using this words in a title nowadays.

ATP: The paintings have been installed in a very peculiar place of Palazzo Antinori. What did strike or fascinate you of that place? 

NP: It’s the first time that I show my work in such an historical place. The presence of an existing mural is of course a very exciting thing! Playing with time and history is always a very exciting aspect of making art. This is a context that is particularly exciting.

ATP: Are there some painters which you draw inspiration from?

NP: Since I moved to Belgium three years ago I discovered a few Belgium painters that are very inspiring at the moment. Léon Spilliaert and William Degouve de Nuncques are two Belgian symbolic artists from the late 19th and early 20th century. Two years ago I saw a show in Lucerne of a Swiss painter called Hans Emmenegger, this show was one of the most inspiring exhibition that I saw recently. Another Swiss painter that I’m looking at at the moment is Cuno Amiet. All these painters were active during the late 19th and early 20th century. I have also been looking at Milton Avery and Louis Eilshemius, two American painters again from the late 19th and early 20th century. I think I’m very intrigued and interested by artists that painted a specific type of figurative subject in that period.