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This summer, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present “sunrise, sunset,” a large-scale, site-specific wall mural by Swiss artist Nicolas Party, on view June 7–Oct. 1. The mural will be painted directly onto the museum wall over the course of two weeks, responding to the museum’s unique circular architecture and spanning nearly 400 feet along its inner-ring gallery. Once completed, it will mark the artist’s first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C.
Party began painting as a graffiti artist in the late 1990s, prior to receiving any formal art education. Today, he primarily creates vibrant wall murals and canvas paintings that, when combined, transform gallery spaces into immersive, surreal environments. Influenced by the wonder and absurdity of Dada as well as the flattened perspective and simplified detail used by the ancient Egyptians, Party illustrates people and objects from everyday life in a vibrant color palette, carefully composing imaginative and unexpected juxtapositions.
In this exhibition, Party turns his attention to the daily, inevitable occurrence of the rising and setting of the sun. He uses dawn and dusk as a metaphorical connector between the past, present and future of humanity, a symbol of both the brevity and infinity of life on Earth. Inspired in part by President Barack Obama’s remark that “the sun will rise in the morning,” in response to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Party invites viewers to reflect on the measured flow of nature amidst the turmoil of daily life.
“The Hirshhorn’s circular galleries are an ideal complement to Party’s immersive murals,” said Hirshhorn director Melissa Chiu. “With his signature use of color and space, Party transforms an abstract concept into a simulated, theatrical environment for visitors to explore. Each expanse along the wall depicts a singular sunset or sunrise, surrounding the viewer with moments of natural beauty.”
Party joins the Hirshhorn’s 2017–18 schedule of diverse contemporary artists whose work reflects global conversations that shape history, politics and culture, including Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, German artist Markus Lüpertz and American artists Yoko Ono, Theaster Gates and Mark Bradford.
About the Hirshhorn
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With nearly 12,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media works, its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all, 364 days a year. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu.
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Nicolas Party, “Landscape,” 2013, Spray paint on wall, 600 x 3000 cm, 236.2 x 1181.1 in Installation view, 157 “Days of Sunshine,” The Bothy Project at the Walled Garden, Glasgow, 2013 Courtesy of the artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow Photography: Patrick Jameson