MASI Lugano / Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana presents Rovine (Ruins), the first major monographic exhibition of Nicolas Party ever to be displayed in a museum in Europe. This immersive project allows the artist to give life to a rather uncanny universe, complete with bold contrasts of color, enveloping architectural forms, and startling trompe l’oeil decorations. Against this backdrop, his magnetic artworks are staged: large site-specific murals, intriguing polychrome sculptures and luminous pastel paintings.
This ambitious exhibition is in fact a project conceived by the artist, on the basis of the specific structure of MASI largest exhibition hall. Here, on an imposing scale, his soaring, centrally planned architecture, is divided into five distinct environments, each dedicated to a recurring motif in Nicolas Party’s work: still life, portrait, rocky views, caves, and landscape.
On the outside of this structure, Party has created four large pastel murals, inspired by four works produced by Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901), a leading representative of symbolism, all depicting enigmatic views of the decaying buildings evoked in the title of the exhibition. These monochromatic, decadent scenarios usher visitors into an environment that contrasts sharply with the chromatic explosion of the works and environments that feature inside the architectural space itself. As is the norm for the artist, Party has further transformed the exhibition space with backgrounds painted in contrasting colors and polychrome marble trompe l’oeil decorations, created in collaboration with Sarah Margnetti. Indeed, this manner of displaying his work is at the core of Party’s belief: exhibitions always represent an opportunity to stage his paintings and sculptures in an environment capable of sparking further possible interpretations of his art, by placing his pieces not simply in relation to one another, but also within their setting.