Nicolas Party Takes First L.A. Solo Exhibit to Hammer Museum

Once a graffiti artist, now working in more traditional modes, Swiss painter Nicolas Party offers a traditional style infused with modern touches in “Hammer Projects: Nicolas Party” at the Hammer Museum in Westwood through Feb. 19.

His signature style consists of bright, graphic patterns of simple shapes on ceramics, furniture, floors, ceilings and doorways. But behind this deceptively simple façade of decorative approach, that could at first appear simply faux naif, are theories of colors and lines.

A classically trained contemporary painter, Party uses the same theories on colors and lines in approaches to landscapes and portraits as well. In the annals of art history, he cites inspiration in medieval religious works, late 19th-century painters such as Félix Vallotton and Ferdinand Hodler, as well as 20th-century painter Balthus. He also counts among his influences contemporary multimedia artist John Armleder.

Armleder is exemplary of a similar school of thought. The Hammer program notes that he also appears to blur the lines between the decorative arts and serious works of painting.

The painter experiments with classic media and techniques such as fresco, gold leaf, and marbling. Party not only creates standard paintings, but also murals, and his Hammer Project, his first L.A. solo exhibit, displays a site-specific mural.

Party, who was born in Switzerland in 1980, has an M.F.A. from the Glasgow School of Art and a B.F.A. from the Lausanne School of Art in Lausanne, Switzerland. His work has been exhibited in his native country, as well as in Germany, Scotland, Norway and other European locations. In the United States, his work has been shown in Dallas and New York.

In late 2015, Party gave an interview with “W Magazine,” discussing the misadventures of his youth as a wall scrawler. He also noted that he finds beauty and inspiration in birds and trees and other elements of nature. “… Those brief moments of looking at a simple thing like fresh fruit and thinking, ‘That’s beautiful. It’s romantic’ – but then, I’m a painter.”

Hammer Projects: Nicolas Party” at the Hammer Museum Sept. 30 through Feb. 19.