The painter who escaped Memphis

Artist and founder member of the Memphis group Nathalie Du Pasquier adds model-making to her practice
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An installation view of Nathalie Du Pasquier's new exhibition at Pace in London. Copyright Nathalie Du Pasquier, Courtesy Pace Gallery
An installation view of Nathalie Du Pasquier's new exhibition at Pace in London. Copyright Nathalie Du Pasquier, Courtesy Pace Gallery

What do you call a designer who makes abstract objects and drawings? A painter? A sculptor? There isn’t a word to describe the leap the former member of the Memphis design group, Nathalie Du Pasquier has made from the design studio to the gallery space.

This Bordeaux-born, Milan-based, self-taught artist created textiles and carpets for the Italian post-modern design collective, as well as furniture and other objects, before becoming a painter in 1987. Beginning with figurative works, Du Pasquier went on to develop a more abstract approach, though she never entirely abandoned the design prototyping process.

 

An installation view of Nathalie Du Pasquier's new exhibition at Pace in London. Copyright Nathalie Du Pasquier, Courtesy Pace Gallery
An installation view of Nathalie Du Pasquier's new exhibition at Pace in London. Copyright Nathalie Du Pasquier, Courtesy Pace Gallery

Du Pasquier describes herself as a ‘painter who makes her own models’, and her current show at Pace London shows just how accurate, and yet how tricksy this definition is. Du Pasquier often creates a three-dimensional model, looking something like an architect’s maquette, before reproducing that work in paint. She also builds three-dimensional wall pieces, which again, look like paintings, or wall-mounted presentation boxes, or perhaps some heavily abstracted interior design or architectural project.

 

An installation view of Nathalie Du Pasquier's new exhibition at Pace in London. Copyright Nathalie Du Pasquier, Courtesy Pace Gallery
An installation view of Nathalie Du Pasquier's new exhibition at Pace in London. Copyright Nathalie Du Pasquier, Courtesy Pace Gallery

Her new show displays both sides of her practice, with a solo exhibition of works mostly created in 2017. It centres on a colourful room, purpose-built within the gallery, displaying equally colourful, abstract canvases, and accompanying models, which, given a light bulb socket or a suitable shelf space, would not look out of place in a Memphis catalogue.

 

An installation view of Nathalie Du Pasquier's new exhibition at Pace in London. Copyright Nathalie Du Pasquier, Courtesy Pace Gallery
An installation view of Nathalie Du Pasquier's new exhibition at Pace in London. Copyright Nathalie Du Pasquier, Courtesy Pace Gallery

Elsewhere on gallery walls, Pace is showing Du Pasquier’s three-dimensional paintings, with their sharp lines, blocky add-ons and cabinet-style edging. Look at them and you might think of Memphis products, or Fernand Léger paintings, or architectural models or city plans. The show’s strength lies in the way Du Pasquier’s art takes in these influences without taking on their limitations.

 

An installation view of Nathalie Du Pasquier's new exhibition at Pace in London. Copyright Nathalie Du Pasquier, Courtesy Pace Gallery
An installation view of Nathalie Du Pasquier's new exhibition at Pace in London. Copyright Nathalie Du Pasquier, Courtesy Pace Gallery

For more on Memphis take a look at our Sottsass books here; for more on contemporary painting get Vitamin P3 and for the show go here


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