Karma is pleased to present Watercolor, a solo exhibition of around fifty recent watercolor paintings by Nicolas Party. The exhibition will be on view at Karma’s 22 East 2nd Street location.

Party’s perennial subjects are familiar yet uncanny: the sunsets and treescapes in Watercolor are transformed through vibrant jewel-toned palettes and unorthodox compositions. His colors are saturated and evocative, more focused on optical effects than verisimilitude. Elongated forms and smooth textures distill landscapes to their essential geometry. Party’s idiosyncratic approach conjures an immersive and surreal environment that is at once steeped in reference and extraordinarily distinctive. 

Nicolas Party describes trees as “nature’s alphabets,” finding in this subject an “infinite flexibility…which makes its execution endlessly playful.” From Party’s vantage, the known world is tilted off its axis. An emerald forest of overlapping foliage is fashioned from stains and blots of pigment. Clouds become amoeba-like, melting into dark miasma; willowy subjects rustle in unheard breezes. Party honors watercolor’s alchemical properties. “Water creates natural movement that forms shapes on the paper,” he explains. “You have to let the fluid element of the paint do its part—the painting is moving and alive for several seconds.” Party’s mastery unites his technical sensibility with his thematic approach. The compositions themselves are alive, shimmering upon first glance. Their forms waver between the natural order of things and the spontaneous, hidden grammars of the unconscious. 

For Party, sunrises and sunsets are markers of the cosmic. They are, as he puts it, “a great poetic reminder that we belong to longer cycles of time.” Throughout his seascapes a vermilion sun stands vigil: in a vignette where a wave surges high into the clouds, the sun peeks through a wash of blues. A minimally-colored work with no horizon line is stained with a grey sweep and a conflagrant red circle at center. Landscape and context are scaled against deep time, rendered immaterial by the cyclical perpetuity of daybreak and sundown. Party’s sunrises and sunsets simultaneously capture the momentary and the ephemeral. 

Party reads trees and landscapes as “constant markers, essential ingredients which always need to be used,” referring to their storied lineage in visual culture. Party’s watercolors emerge from this historical thicket: as he explains, “I like imagining a forest made of all the trees ever painted.”