“No Turning Here!” is the first Brussels exhibition of the French artist Nathalie Du Pasquier, a former founding member of the Memphis Group. Her paintings consist in playful arrangements of shapes and colours.
Nathalie Du Pasquier is not one of the most well-known names in the art world but her work is known to everyone because it shaped the graphic landscape of the 1980s. Living in Milan at the time, the French artist was, along with Ettore Sottsass, one of the founding members of the Memphis Group.
With its objects, textiles, and furniture with bold and colourful surfaces covered in lively motifs, the movement imprinted on the collective unconscious a certain postmodern aesthetic, which was in keeping with the hedonistic spirit of the decade. A book entitled Don’t Take These Drawings Seriously is a collection of her work from that period. In her paintings, which have made up most of her output since 1987, the humour is subtler and the vibrant energy of the 1980s seems subdued, replaced by a joy in painting without tricks or effects.
The canvases that she is exhibiting at Greta Meert form an arrangement of static forms and volumes that seem almost disconnected or imbalanced. In them, it feels like you can make out stairs, windows, and boxes, but the paintings are not highly figurative. Everything there is to see is right there in front of you. Subliminally, however, the paintings may bring to mind storage spaces, a world of work, warehouses in which dust, dirt, and grime have disappeared.
There is nothing oppressive about these compositions, which are often dominated by square forms. There is even a certain joyful and timeless detachment to them. The colours are never aggressive, never attempting to invade the areas beyond those to which they have been assigned. At times, a band of red or yellow has the effect of a dim light signalling. There are hardly any curves in these playful arrangements, save for a few semi-circles that appear to retreat from the foreground.
At the centre of the exhibition, between two cast iron columns, is one of the artist’s most recent works, a three-dimensional painted structure covered with decorative elements that are reminiscent of furniture and design. The painting becomes an object. Like a return to the artist’s 1980s mould.
NATHALIE DU PASQUIER: NO TURNING HERE! > 19/1, Galerie Greta Meert