In an introductory talk to her current exhibition at Camden Arts Centre, Nathalie Du Pasquier expressed her excitement at having the opportunity to work ‘at a different scale’. Self-described as a painter of still lives ‘who makes her own models’ – carefully colour toned, modular, geometric constructions – Du Pasquier has taken two gallery rooms as her field of composition for a new body of work that comes together as a comprehensive, if many sided, installation. ‘Other Rooms’ thereby represents a new undertaking for Du Pasquier, albeit one that follows on from the logic of a recent survey of her work first presented at Kunstalle Wien in 2016 and reiterated at the ICA, Philadelphia this year, which approached her greater body of work – paintings, drawings, sculpture, pattern for textile design and objects – as compositional elements in a greater whole.
A similar circulation of concerns, moving across multidisciplinary elements and varied dimensions and scales, informs ‘Other Rooms’. The walls of the first space are covered by Du Pasquier’s designs, colourful block patterns built from repeated motifs, as are the external walls of two smaller rooms that have been built into and divide up the second, larger space. Du Pasquier has ordered her cut-out shapes to stack into modules suggestive of architecture, domestic objects or even typographies. Unfolding against the negative white of the wall to draw spatial planes, sightlines seem to shift across multiple horizons. This ambiguity between two and three-dimensions rendered on a flat plane recurs in the drawings and painted compositions found within the internal spaces.
In the first of these, Du Pasquier’s impossible constructions have been cut out, the unframed paintings hanging over densely patterned wallpaper so that they appear to float in abstraction. Optically expanding and contracting, the depth of space inside this room is juxtaposed with the flat bands of colour that ring around the encompassing room’s perimeter walls. Looking out, the doorway becomes a frame for a striped, flat plane of colour. From one room to the other, perspective bends and the mind constantly pivots between them, following the bright yellow band that skirts round the interior and exterior base of room’s wall in a permanent loop.
In contrast, the second interior room quietly displays a series of daily drawings that relate sequentially alongside seven ceramic sculptures, one for each day of the week. These stacked, vessel-like forms are split between two plinths at diagonal corners of the room and organised into two sympathetic pairs and a threesome. Here we return more obliquely to the patterns of living that run through Du Pasquier’s art and design practices: an intuitive arranging of things in space; a language of colours that suggest the things that describe them; the organisation of space and time.
Du Pasquier is adamant that her work is not about ‘representation’, nor is she ‘conceptual’. It is more like a cheerful game, deceptive in its apparent simplicity, that plays upon the fascinating workings of perspective within visual, physical comprehension. Thinking back over the exhibition from the final, internal room, where objects lean back slightly from their abstraction to become more associative forms, we sense the space of the studio and the artist at work over a period of days, weeks, months. We comprehend the thick grey band of colour running around the lower part of the walls in the very first room as a plinth. We see the grid of the space as a plan, it’s internal squares and colourful, striped frame. In this unfolding, revolving exhibition, we constantly find ourselves at the threshold between spatial logics, imagining, recalling, looking into and out of other rooms.