“This is a nice room,” Nicolas Pol said.
The Parisian artist was sitting in an empty white storage warehouse, wedged in a corner of the dirty cement floor, wallowing in the bits of clumping plaster.
“Yeah, it’s great,” The Observer responded. Asbestos was scattered about them.
A few rooms over, “Sick Atavus of the New Blood,” Mr. Pol’s second career exhibition, had lured to the gutted-out space on Washington Street editors of glossy magazines, willowy-eyed French girls in gothic, black-strapped heels and men with chunky Gallic noses. The space where the paintings were hung had been wiped clean and stuffed with hovering trays of Champagne, but the cold room, where Mr. Pol sat with The Observer, had nothing but a crude outline of the continents etched onto a discarded wall.
Mr. Pol pointed at the map of the world.
“I wanted it as a piece for the show but no, I can’t,” he said. “It’s way too heavy.”
Nothing in the exhibition, though, was as staid as the page of an atlas. His paintings were chopshops of Warhol ad copy, big colors plastered on top, blunt imagery swirled in. Dug into the canvases were big corpse boxes with corporation logos and the occasional glaring crucifix. His sculptures were overgrown headlike piñatas, their mouths gagging on tongues of Chinese dragon capes that spewed out them, pulsating gold letters jumping off the scarlet base and crawling like carpet through the room.
“Your art is bombastic,” The Observer noted.
The painter had paint stains on his grease-hued cords, a round face and Frankish overtones babying the sound of every syllable.
“It’s good that you say that,” Mr. Pol said. “You don’t need to know too much, if you know some things about what’s going on with the world, that will be enough.”
Mr. Pol’s last show attracted no less than the discerning eyes of the Olsen twins, and though Mary-Kate and Ashley skipped out this go-around, the musk of celebrity was pervasive. This had much to do with Mr. Pol’s promoter and wingman Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld and his mother, Carine Roitfeld, the party fixture late of the editor’s desk at French Vogue.
With that in mind, should the artist applaud or sigh if four women want nothing more to do with their Thursday night than crash his afterparty?
“No! We’re going in,” one of the uninvited said after The Observer watched them race past fretful PRs at the Gramercy Park Hotel and into his elevator.
“He said that he’s gonna find a seat for us, so now we’re just going,” said a second. “Period, end of story.”
To their credit, the crashers lasted a good 15 minutes, and even managed to snag The Observer’s seat as he roamed around the garden terrace, overgrown bushes and ferns tumbling off the ledges.
Upstairs, Ms. Roitfeld caught the artist by the elbow and entered into a low but audible whisper.
“It was amazing!” Ms. Roitfeld said. “It’s the third one, no? I’m drunk, but I don’t think it’s the second one. And then the next one!”
By the time Mr. Pol mentioned his next choice of exhibition locale, Hong Kong, they had moved back into French. The words gelled to a blur—The Observer lacked comprehension of the tongue—and then they started repeating something that sounded like “je fume”—oh, they were indicating that you could smoke over there, in the bathrooms.
The terrace was tucked underneath a rooftop glass box and beneath that dome the guests drifted freely between courses and, as the wine set in, during them. On one side sat the de Kooning family.
“Yeah! I definitely see some abstract thing going on,” Lucy, Willem’s granddaughter, said to The Observer over a cigarette. “Like, definitely Nicolas’ work was definitely influenced by my grandfather.”
Asher Roth, the frat-rap MC responsible for “I Love College,” had come with his girlfriend, 23-year-old gin heiress Hannah Bronfman.
“I’m getting my eyes opened right now,” Mr. Roth explained. “It was violent, really violent. You gotta appreciate art of that magnitude.”
The art of that magnitude was there, in the gallery, in the hotel, and The Observer did appreciate it. He noted it in the asbestos smearing the painter’s pants, or the audacity of those walking into a party and taking a random seat. There was also magnitude in the statement The Observer heard before entering the bathroom, uttered by the French man about to exit.
“Enjoy your smoke, mate,” he said.
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