Nathalie Du Pasquier, the artist, designer, and founding member of the Memphis group along with Ettore Sottsass, is the distillation of what it truly means to be multidisciplinary. In her own words, she “build[s] things on canvas or with objects. If these things then become paintings, furniture, or fashion, doesn’t matter to me.” In whatever medium, her message comes first, and her expression never fails to feel totally honest.
While Du Pasquier’s best known works remain the jarringly geometric, colorful patterns she created during the Memphis era—all pop-art dots, lines, and thick black outlines (as above)—her oeuvre outside of pattern is vast. A new exhibition at Camden Arts Centre in north London, Other Rooms (running from September 29, 2017 – January 14, 2018), looks to prove that, taking her work into three dimensions in the form of a site-specific gallery installation.
“The rather unusual thing about Nathalie’s work is her journey from being a designer into painting,” says the exhibition’s curator, Jenni Lomax of the artist’s move from working as a designer until 1987; her primary medium has been painting ever since.
“I think Nathalie now would see herself as being a painter, so while she does still do things that get produced and go out into the world in some way like design work—the ceramic pieces that are going in the show, for instance—they’re very different from her paintings or drawings, and prints and books, but they are all part of her wider conversation with painting.”
That goes for the installation as well, which takes over two gallery spaces. For the show, Du Pasquier created two rooms within rooms, which she calls “cabins.” One such cabin bears a blue painted interior, and displays seven pots on plinths, one for each day or week. These are shown with a collection of new drawings, and in the other cabin room, Du Pasquier displays a new wallpaper that coats all the walls, with more paintings hung on top.
“When you look at it, it looks like a crazy city or something, made up of modules, shapes, and colors,” says Lomax. “It’s like being able to walk through a painting—a huge still life picture. You’re surrounded by color and form.”
It’s a fitting and logical realization of her work, which even in print or pattern design turns on the interplay of 2D and 3D. All the work, whatever its format, subtly hints at explorations of “the subtle autobiographical nature of the still life,” as the gallery puts it.
Whether it’s that implied sense of autobiography, or the mesmeric nature of the patterns, or simply the bold colors and lines of Du Pasquier’s work, there’s a palpable sense of joy to the whole show. “Anybody that goes will learn a lot about color, about the formal arrangement of space, and the inventiveness of drawing—what you can do with drawing through putting things together and placing, as well as imagining,” says Lomax. “There’s a lot to do with the imagination here.”