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Revisiting Nathalie Du Pasquier's ‘paintings of things' and 'paintings as objects’
Nathalie Du Pasquier: paintings of things. paintings as objects exhibition at Kunsthal Aarhus, 2023
Image: Jacob Friis-Holm Nielsen

Revisiting Nathalie Du Pasquier's ‘paintings of things' and 'paintings as objects’

Kunsthal Aarhus in Denmark is hosting the first comprehensive exhibition of the French visual artist and designer, where she investigates the genre of still-life painting.

by Pooja Suresh Hollannavar
Published on : Jul 20, 2023

Kunsthal Aarhus, a contemporary arts centre in Denmark, has opened its doors to the first comprehensive display of works by Milan-based artist and designer Nathalie Du Pasquier, in an international setting. The exhibition is titled Nathalie Du Pasquier paintings of things. paintings as objects, and showcases a wide array of her artworks from 1989 to the present day, marking Du Pasquier's first exhibition in Scandinavia. Kunsthal Aarhus also commissioned a unique wall painting by Du Pasquier, that integrates seamlessly with the institution's architecture.

Artistic director of Kunsthal Aarhus, Diana Baldon expresses her excitement about hosting Du Pasquier's exhibition, stating, "It is very exceptional that we can present this exhibition by Du Pasquier at Kunsthal Aarhus. She is an important artist who has made her mark on the international scene for many years. The audience will certainly recognise features in her design and art, and at the same time, they will be presented with something new and unknown."

Supported by institutions such as the Danish Arts Foundation and Aarhus Municipality, the showcase is on view from June 9 - September 3, 2023, and is spread across three galleries within Kunsthal Aarhus' oldest spaces. The narrative of the solo exhibition is divided into two distinct periods, from 1989 - 2000, and from 2015 - 2023. The gap between the two periods is bridged by a series of ceramic works titled natures mortes (2002) in Gallery 2. These pieces were created in collaboration with the experimental CRAFT laboratory in Limoges, France, known for its porcelain industry.

The galleries focussed on Du Pasquier's earlier period of 1989 - 2000, feature the artist's figurative works, which she refers to as 'paintings of things.' These visual artworks use precise compositional techniques while retaining an element of spontaneous intuition. Du Pasquier's preferred genre during this period was still-life, and her pieces depict meticulous details of traditional everyday objects—fruit, vases, chairs, and other bric-à-brac items such as screwdrivers or washing powder in cardboard boxes. Employing an earthy colour palette and thin layers of brushwork, the visual artist creates a captivating fusion of realism and abstraction on squared canvases and large sheets of paper.

The gallery featuring works from the period 2015 - 2023 showcases 'paintings as objects.' Du Pasquier's approach to still-life painting undergoes a significant shift during this phase—Rather than imitating nature, her focus shifts towards abstract geometries as the primary subject matter. Colours, lines, grids, and proportions become universal tools of expression in an endless creative process where variations emerge from reworking older compositions. This transition allows Du Pasquier to redirect attention from the realm of the image to that of the object, expanding the physical domain of her art.

In a captivating move that connects her art to a more permanent canvas, Du Pasquier has created a wall painting specifically for the café area of Kunsthal Aarhus. This site-specific artwork is expertly created to complement the existing aesthetic of the institution, serving as a fitting conclusion to the art exhibition.

Nathalie Du Pasquier, born in Bordeaux, France, in 1957, has been living and working in Milan, Italy since 1979. She is essentially a self-taught designer who gained recognition as a founding member of the post-modern design collective, the Memphis Group, led by Ettore Sottsass. Du Pasquier's designs during this period encompassed vibrant and graphic surface patterns for textiles, carpets, plastic laminates, objects, and furniture designs. Influenced by African textile patterns, as well as movements such as Wiener Werkstätte, Arts and Crafts, and William Morris, her work made a significant impact.

Since 1987, Du Pasquier has devoted herself primarily to painting, while occasionally engaging in design projects. Her art revolves around the arrangement and interaction of existing things, encompassing both paintings and three-dimensional objects. The French artist's work transcends mere decoration and offers a unique perspective that has attracted significant interest, particularly from younger generations, through the power of the internet.

The exhibition at Kunsthal Aarhus offers visitors a journey through her artistic evolution, showcasing her transition from Memphis design to her later exploration of painting and sculpture. Kunsthal Aarhus provides an exceptional platform for viewers to appreciate the creativity and ingenuity of Du Pasquier's artistic vision.

Nathalie Du Pasquier: 'paintings of things. paintings as objects' at Kunsthal Aarhus, 2023 Video: Jens Henrik Daugaard

Nathalie Du Pasquier's 'paintings of things. paintings as objects' is on view from June 9 - September 3, 2023, at Kunsthal Aarhus in Denmark.

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