Last Sunday, I went to visit a young friend’s exhibition, held at the Maison de la culture Villebon in nearby Beloeil. Nathalie Vanderveken and I met while being involved in an emerging artists’ association, Agrégat, a few years ago.
At the time, she was a student in visual arts. She has since completed her studies brilliantly, developing an interest in the representation of garments and, through apprenticeships in printmaking, a love of paper.
The exhibit is called “Tailor-made” because the artist takes her inspiration from the dress patterns that are used to make clothes.
But that’s only the beginning…
First, she unfolds the patterns and looks at them. The fine paper printed with marks, layouts of dotted lines, arrows and instructions, are intended as a blueprint to make a piece of clothing. What Nathalie sees in them is a world of visual possibilities.
The artist uses them as a starting ground to make clothes-like sculptures, deconstructing the volumes and reassembling them in forms that have little to do with their anticipated use. We are reminded of garments and of the bodies they are meant to dress. Using a mixture of materials, mostly paper that is sometimes solidified with a Japanese paste called Konnyaku, she brings a contrast of structure and movement, of rigor and some degree of softness that makes the art evocative and yet unsettling.
This tailor-made body of work is far from responding to the constraints of a design. Rather, the artist explores with it the freedom to work without compass.
What I find stimulating here is the dynamic offer to our perception. These drawings and sculptures by Nathalie Vanderveken are challenging our minds to a fragmentation and redefinition of the way we look at form.
I find that quite inventive and liberating.