As a major new work by Nathalie du Pasquier went on display at the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco in an exhibition of recent acquisitions made possible through the support of UBS (Monaco) S.A., we spoke to the French-born, Milan-based artist about the factors that have shaped her art.
"I think I am inspired by whatever happens to me," du Pasquier postulates, reflecting on a career which has attracted acclaim in the worlds of both commercial design and fine art. Du Pasquier initially rose to prominence as part of the influential 1980s design movement Memphis before turning to painting, and credits this unconventional path for allowing her greater freedom as an artist: "Not having studied anything, I could feel that I could in fact do whatever I wanted."
Without a formal grounding, she has instead "taken a lesson from a lot of things I have looked at in my life," finding inspiration in an eclectic mix of art, architecture, even ancient sculpture and mosaics. So what drew her to painting? Having combed through the art historical canon, she concludes, "what I like about painting is that it is really about the history of humanity as well, and this is what has inspired me... It was really the art of the world and of every time."
Du Pasquier's background in design remains significant, lending her work an aesthetic quality that she is not afraid to describe in terms of her former preoccupation with decoration. She explains that she has "always thought that the painting also needed to be decorative, pleasant, which was not very well seen when I started painting." Undeterred, she continued to pursue her own sense of aesthetics. "It's important to do something that gives also pleasure; it's a little bit [of an] old-fashioned way of looking at things, but it's my way anyway."
A further distinctive quality of du Pasquier's work is her interest in playing at the borderlands of abstraction and representation – her paintings can seem to hover between the two – and the boundaries between objects and the space around them. It is these liminal territories that are explored again, to great effect, in Dentro ieri fuori oggi, a cabin-like installation which forms a striking centrepiece within the NMNM exhibition. The work, according to du Pasquier, mixes "the intimate dimension of the painting together with the solid, fixed idea of the architecture," and is also a kind of reflection on the artist's journey: its interior represents her past while the exterior – captivating, harmonious, imbued with a subtle sense of motion – portrays "exactly what I am now".
Collection NMNM, Une sélection d'oeuvres acquises grâce au soutien d'UBS (Monaco) S.A. is on view at the Villa Paloma until 20 May 2018.
UBS has been the Main Sponsor of the Nouveau Musée National Monaco since 2011.