For Snails’ Chapel, Nicolas Party has transformed the project room of the gallery into a frescoed chapel, creating a site specific mural that responds to the intimate architecture of the room. Through applying colour to a variety of surfaces – paper, canvas, walls and objects – Nicolas Party’s work explores the inherent possibilities of paint as a medium, both creatively and conceptually. Painting still lifes and landscapes from imagination, Party incorporates a vocabulary of recurring figurative elements – pots, food, mountains and trees – which are appropriated from the history of art and design and reimagined by the artist in a critical, playful way. Not merely a quotation, this process of appropriation aims to subvert the established paradigms of art history, often employing and mixing different aesthetic registers.
The title of the work, Snails’ Chapel, refers to a painting by an early-Renaissance painter of the School of Ferrara, Francesco del Cossa. In his Annunciation dated 1467, a disproportionate snail is depicted on the lower edge of the painting, as a boundary between the illusory space of the art work and the real space from which the viewer observes it. Similarly, the interiors of Party’s chapel are marked with numerous snails, crawling around the the elements inhabiting the space: fruits, bottles, sticks and pots. The room’s windows seem not to open out to the world, but onto a symbolized and slighlty exaggerated representation of reality. Rather than a solemn, richly decorated temple, Nicholas Party’s chapel resembles a naive and clumsy environment, something in between a rural church and an italian restaurant.