Nicolas Party l'Heure Mauve Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to do list

L’Heure Mauve by Nicolas Party is coloured in the hues of apocalypse anxiety

“In the mauve twilight – that moment when dusk is tainted with purple hues – it is possible to see the end of a world.”

Visitors to L’Heure Mauve at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) will be treated to dozens of works by Nicolas Party, 20 of which have never been exhibited until now. Carefully curated by MMFA Director Stéphane Aquin and the museum’s Chief Curator Mary-Dailey Desmarais, L’Heure Mauve is the Swiss-born contemporary artist’s first exhibition in Canada. The exhibition also includes about 50 handpicked works from artists such as Emily Carr, Otto Dix, Nicolas Poussin and Gustave Courbet. 

L’Heure Mauve was inspired by Canadian artist Ozias Leduc’s painting of the same name. “The scene is nearly anecdotal, in that everything in this composition shrouded in a mysterious sadness seems to allude to a tragedy of unfathomable proportion,” explained Aquin. “In the mauve twilight – that moment when dusk is tainted with purple hues – it is possible to see the end of a world.”

In L’Heure Mauve, Party grapples with the uncertain state of the modern natural world, exploring the anxieties many of us face in regards to the future of the spaces we inhabit. The result is an immersive exhibition drenched in striking pastels and enigmatic scenes that will leave visitors in a dreamlike trance.

The MMFA offered Party the opportunity to sift through the its extensive collections in order to handpick several works that would accompany the artist’s pieces in the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion. “The result is not an exhibition in the usual sense of the word, but a work of art in and of itself — an extraordinary visual poem, where fantastical beings inhabit a lyrical and idealized nature,” explained Aquin.

Museum of Fine Arts Montreal Nicolas Party events what to do today to-do list
“Head” by Nicolas Party, part of L’Heure Mauve at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Visitors will be particularly captivated by the main room of the exhibition, which features a sculpture titled “Head.” The large red face, with its haunting, fixed gaze, rests at the foreground of the room, with the mural titled Sunset serving as a backdrop to the sculpture. Other notable works include Trees, Portrait With Mushrooms, “Portrait With Lawyer,” and “Still Life.” 

Visitors are encouraged to bring along a set of earphones and a smartphone in order to experience the exhibition’s accompanying soundtrack by Quebec musician Pierre Lapointe. Scanning the various QR codes located in each room of the exhibition provides access to Lapointe’s music. This soundtrack, featuring 14 songs, presents listeners with both brand new tracks as well as classic songs that have been reimagined. The soundtrack is now available on all digital platforms and will be released on vinyl this summer.  

Party’s tendency towards saturated colours, surreal figures and painstakingly painted murals make for a visit that many won’t soon forget. L’Heure Mauve aims to unsettle previous conceptions of the turbulent relationship humans have with the natural world. Fueled by existential questions, Party’s work confronts the liminal phase of the early evening, where the sky is dusted in light purple and the fate of tomorrow remains unknown. 

For more on L’Heure Mauve by Nicolas Party, which continues until Oct. 16, please visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1380 Sherbrooke W.) website.

For more Montreal arts coverage, please visit the Arts & Life section.