Thinking with a Brush

Talking with Nathalie Du Pasquier, a painter that sees the world through her work.

Text By Alessandro Mussolini

The first thing Nathalie Du Pasquier tells me when I step in her studio is that she doesn't have much time for me, because she has to work. And even though she tells me she has a deadline in a few days, the feeling is that all she wants to do is what she does best: Draw.

Portrait of Nathalie Du Pasquier

She has always painted, but as a designer she also founded the Memphis Group together with Ettore Sottsass and her patterns have adorned pillows, carpets and more recently even clothes for ​American Apparel.

Cover of the book ‘Don't Take These Drawings Seriously’ By Nathalie Du Pasquier. Designed by Omar Sosa
Big 8, by Nathalie Du Pasquier, drawing 2014, 70x100

NATHALIE DU PASQUIERI am a painter. It is what I've always been. I build things on canvas or with objects. If these things then become paintings, furniture or fashion, doesn't matter to me.

ARTEMEST: Is there really no difference?

NDP: I feel like a chef. His job is to cook, but his preparations have to change based on whether he’s serving a formal dinner or a picnic. For me it is the same. I know what I'm supposed to draw but I simply change the recipes as I go along.

‘It is Hard to Get Excited About Growth of Less Than 3% With No Sign of Imminent Improvement’ by Nathalie Du Pasquier at Chamber, in New York - - courtesy Antonella Tignanelli

A: And where do you find your ingredients?

NDP: Around me, inside me. When I’m working, all the things I do in my life merge: Even the weather, the food I ate the night before, the mood in which I get up in the morning... Each one of us is like a melting pot of sensory experiences, where all our stimuli are “cooked.” I am focused on what I do, on my work, that is why I love being in my studio.

‘It is Hard to Get Excited About Growth of Less Than 3% With No Sign of Imminent Improvement’ by Nathalie Du Pasquier at Chamber, in New York - - courtesy Antonella Tignanelli

A: It is a very idiosyncratic way of working. But during the Memphis era was there a more collective approach?

NDP:Memphis was just a group of people who valued each other, that met in the evening to compare their work. That group has been idealized and, although it is true that today we are more individualistic, it doesn't mean that there is no more dialogue. Two years ago I made a book with Chung Eun Mo, a Korean painter: an exchange of emails only made with drawings and no words. It was a very stimulating exchange.

A: There are new ways to meet up today ...

NDP: You have to navigate the changes. You have to evolve together with the world around you. I’m not interested in building monuments. I'm curious, I love today’s fast pace, meeting young people. I have just finished a book with Omar Sosa who collected my drawings from 1981 to 1987. I hadn’t looked at them in a long time, and Omar made me view them with fresh eyes. Meeting the right people is important because they just change your life.

Painting in December, 2009, 100x100cm, oil on canvas
Painting in a Corner, 2009, 150x150cm, oil on canvas
Drawings, 1985

A: What is your relationship with digital media?

NDP: Today we are overwhelmed by information. I favor a low tech approach in my work. I find some things very helpful, such as scans, but I’m a devotee of the immediacy of the pencil. When I paint I do not think. Maybe I think in another way: I think with the brush. I start to think with my brain when a piece is completely finished.


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