Nicolas Party ‘When Tomorrow Comes’

Installation view, 'When Tomorrow Comes', Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Germany
Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden

Nicolas Party’s exhibition at the Museum Frieder Burda is the Swiss artist’s first museum presentation in Germany. Party has transformed the entire ensemble of rooms in Richard Meier’s distinctive building, located in the middle of a park landscape, into a conceptionally planned painting universe that visitors can enter. Impressive groups of luminous pastels as large murals, and small oil paintings on copper intervene in the museum’s architectural spaces, creating an exceptionally magical power of attraction.

The artist, who was born in 1980, is known for conceiving his exhibitions as large-scale immersive stages in which the palette of his works, which are filled with art-historical and stylistic references, spill over onto the white walls of the exhibition space. This makes the visitor’s yearning for white walls, after being moved by the sensuousness of art, strikingly apparent. Murals painted directly on the wall show cascades of a waterfall, a burning forest, airy cloud formations and mountain panoramas, or a landscape with ruins. They contrast with meticulously painted, mysterious portraits of women with flowers, still lifes of unidentified fruits or vegetables, and miniature paintings depicting dinosaurs, an expression of the artist’s recent fascination with prehistoric creatures.

The extensive exhibition in Baden-Baden enables visitors to immerse themselves in the artist’s unique practice and his visual meditations on the relationship between nature and humans as well as on the course of time in the world. Party’s singular visual language and subversive style allow him to condense his images into a fantastical and future-oriented cosmos of images that seems particularly topical today. The artist once said, “It’s interesting for me to think about the apocalypse and art history, of Sodom and Gomorrah, and other historical paintings of fires that represent the end of the world. We believe, and we feel, that we are at the end of our human path as global warming brings us to ecological crisis, but this feeling has been almost a constant, from Noah’s Ark and various apocalyptic tales in the Bible to the nuclear bombings of World War II.”

To cite a saying, “It could have all happened another way.” Nicolas Party’s exhibition, which was curated by Udo Kittelmann, transfers this realization into a hypothetical tomorrow – one that is full of hope.