Nathalie Du Pasquier’s coloured pencil illustrations for The Light Observer depict electric luminescence
The Memphis artist and designer talks us through her series of diagrammatic drawings, exploring the magazine’s theme of “light in all its forms”.
- Jenny Brewer
- 29 June 2020
Milan-based indie magazine The Light Observer launched in early 2020, with the mission to explore a theme of light in art and photography. Through an eclectic series of interviews and creative works by artists, photographers, architects, scientists, poets and more, the magazine wants to “explore light in all its forms,” using this universal link to congregate a wide range of contributors and visual responses. Editor-in-chief Hugo Berger is a French graphic designer, who always wanted to create a publication and saw this concept as a way to feature all sorts of artwork and opinion on “a subject that is part of our everyday life and yet remains mysterious”.
“Francis Ford Coppola said in an interview: ‘We can derive from light so much emotion, so much understanding and knowledge that the real importance of light is worthy to think about a lot’ and that pretty much sums up our approach and why we do the magazine,” Hugo explains.
For each issue, which plans to publish biannually, Hugo asks contributing artists to create an exclusive series of artworks around the theme. Among its inaugural contributors is Memphis artist and designer and pattern maestro Nathalie Du Pasquier who, like Hugo, is a French designer in the Milanese design community. Hugo approached her as “more like an invitation to collaborate together,” he says. “We wanted her to be the protagonist more than the executor.”
“The brief was open, ‘something about light’,” Nathalie tells It’s Nice That. “It took me a while to understand what I wanted to do. I usually work with material things and volumes, the light is by essence immaterial. The title of the magazine also made me think of an observer who is light, in the sense of ‘not heavy’, someone who smiles. Anyway, I went on holiday and as always on these occasions I took paper and coloured pencils, not paint.
“On holiday I work in the kitchen at night or in the garden during the day. But when the idea of a source of light arrived, then the kitchen table at night was more appropriate. I decided to work with the idea of the electric light. From the idea of light came the concept of luminescence, a source of light, and I started to play with words associated with those concepts, but very randomly, a bit like a joke.”
The results are charming hand-drawn illustrations akin to diagrams and schematics that, in their raw aesthetic, reveal Nathalie’s process and the stylistic essence behind her more polished commercial work – for example, Hugo points out, her use of “fine pattern, humour and acute sense of shape and colour”. Alongside the drawings are the phrases that inspired them, for example Le Siècle des Lumières (The Age of Enlightenment), or Une Intellige nce Lumineuse (A Bright Intelligence), which are purposely a mixture of the poetic and absurd. The designer says that their final form was a happenstance byproduct of this moment in time, and fittingly the collection of drawings also has an air of serendipity.
“In fact this series of drawings could not have been made in my Milan studio,” she explains. “These drawings don't tell a story, they follow each other by random associations. I think the broken line I used for all of them is a bit like the electricity. The electric current is running through these drawings and around them.”
The next issue of The Light Observer will collaborate with artist Caroline Denervaud. Buy issue one here.