Nicolas Party and Others Pay Tribute to Pastel at The FLAG Art Foundation


Jean-Baptiste Perronneau
Portrait of a woman with pink ribbons, n.d.
Pastel on paper

 
This we know for sure: any exhibition in which Nicolas Party’s name is attached is sure to draw in crowds. The artist himself has skyrocketed in recent years with his elusive yet bold lexicon that captivates and attracts eyes all over the world.
 

Nicolas Party
Portrait with Pink Bows, 2019
Soft pastel on linen

 
While he may be more accustomed to exhibitions consisting solely of his own work, with Nicolas Party: Pastel, the artist wears two hats, as both participating artist and curator.
 


Nicolas Party: Pastel
Installation view

 
Anchoring the exhibition are four, Rococo-inspired murals which don the different rooms of the gallery in an exuberant, jaw-dropping manner similar to a stage built for a high-value production. Walking through the exhibition from multi-color room to multi-color room becomes an experience in and of itself.
 

Nicolas Party: Pastel
Installation view

 
In an unprecedented move, Party combines the work of centuries-old masters with many of his contemporaries working today. Reading the entire artist list might insight some confusion at first for the variety of names and time periods which the artists are a product of: Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757), Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Louis Fratino (b. 1993), Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), Loie Hollowell (b. 1983), Julian Martin (b. 1969), Toyin Ojih Odutola (b. 1985), Chris Ofili (b. 1968), Jean-Baptiste Perronneau (1715-1783), Billy Sullivan (b. 1946), Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920), and Robin F. Williams (b. 1984).
 


Robin F. Williams
Alive with Pleasure (Study), 2018
Pastel on paper

 

Linking all of the work together is its use of pastel as the medium. The history of pastel proves an interesting tale. Coming up in eighteenth-century France, the pastel had a brief golden age but ultimately proved unsustainable for its fragility.

 


L-R
Robin F. Williams
Vaping in the Rain (Study), 2019
Pastel on paper

Nicolas Party
Landscape, 2017
Soft pastel on paper

 

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a portrait by venetian-born artist Rosalba Carriera. Unveiled as soon as the elevator doors open, Carriera’s work (also the impetus for Party organizing the entire show) is significant perhaps less for its subject matter than for the artist’s part in popularizing the use of pastel. The female artist is credited for binding the powders of pastel into uniform sticks, making their use in fine art much more feasible. Beyond this, with her success in producing small-scale pastel portraiture, which extended to Venetian nobility and European aristocracy, Carriera would become one of the first female artists to achieve international acclaim and independent financial success prior to 1800.

 

L-R
Toyin Ojih Odutola
Hide Out, 2018
Pastel, charcoal, and pencil on paper

Mary Cassatt
Mrs. Alexander J. Cassatt in Blue Evening Gown Seated at a Tapestry Frame, n.d.
Pastel on paper

 

Unlike other mediums, the pastel seems to convey a certain lifelike quality in its subjects, with a luminous and vibrant effect. With the impressive artworks on view throughout the exhibition, we see this quality play out in a myriad of ways. Works from contemporary favorites, such as Louis Fratino, Loie Hollowell, Toyin Oijh Odutola, and Robin F. Williams, to name a few, help to frame the exhibition in present time, while maintaining a link to the in-depth history from which all of the work has been forged.

 

Nicolas Party: Pastel is on view at The FLAG Art foundation through February 15, 2020.

RELATED POSTS