Enjoying in person art exhibitions again

Since the pandemic came into our lives, late night “spur of the moment”ideas are often abandoned because of logistics and advance reservations. I was therefore happily surprised when our visit to “L’Heure mauve”, Nicolas Party’s first exhibition in Canada, came together yesterday. Flexibility and speed were key.

“L’Heure mauve” is based on a painting from Canadian painter Ozias Leduc and is featured at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts until April 3rd.

Nicolas Party is a young painter and sculptor born in Swirzerland and was a discovery for me. His versatility and use of colors definitely impressed me. Furthermore, he works mostly in pastels which I admire since I personally abhor using this medium.

The exhibition integrates paintings from old masters that perhaps served as inspiration to the artist while some offer a drastic contrast with his works.

On the wall directly across the entrance of each room, Nicolas has painted, in situ, a huge mural serving as background to one traditional painting in the middle. I can just imagine the time he spent on planning and painting these.

His landscapes, with their often skewed perspective, are bold and otherworldly. He also presents some portraits and still lives transformed into abstracted, biomorphic shapes.

Most of his work breaks with conventional art rules in one way or another and it is what makes the collection of fantastical characters and landscapes interesting. It brings us into an alternate reality, one of distorted yet relatable shapes that left me somewhat troubled in some cases while in awe in others.

In each room, except the last, the interior floor space is decorated with chairs repeating the biomorphic shapes displayed on the walls. The last room is filled with giant heads and bodies decorated with painted insects and frogs reminiscent of tattoos.

I must admit the pandemic introduced some nice changes to visits at the museum. Everything is now streamlined so that your access to the exhibits is simplified and thanks to smart phones and the new world of CUE codes, headphones being shared from one visitor to another have disappeared. This was always a turn off.

But even more than the art displayed and the novel technology, it was the excitement of finally seeing people milling about, discussing art and art history and taking pictures that impressed me. The atmosphere was electric. The forgotten smell of multiple human bodies seeping through my mask startled me when I entered the first room.

To be able to get close to artworks, scrutinize textures, examine techniques and to share the experience with other art lovers was priceless.

I came out with my head filled with colours and ideas, an impression of being alive again.


©Text and photos by S.Bélair

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