ISABELLE

 

Isabelle de Borchgrave is an artist who has sought, and indeed discovered new directions in contemporary creation. She has made works in bronze, she has painted and she has authored installations on commission from public bodies and international fairs, most notably at the Tour de Picasso, France.[1] Isabelle is an indefatigable explorer of a new aesthetic landscape - through her painting, her installations and her myriad creations.

 

The story starts in a small house on the Sablon, Brussels, where Isabelle turned her little attic under the roof into a workshop. She gave drawing lessons to local children and friends, all the while letting her mind roam over her own creative possibilities. This was the 1970’s and at the centre of her work soon stood ‘La Tour de Bébelle’ project: hand-painted outfits, scatterings of fabric rolls, pigments, brushes, gouaches, canvases, pastels and travel carnets in a rich scatter of colours and shapes, all gathered together in a bright, friendly and modern atmosphere. Later, her chosen working material indeed would be with paper, which she fashioned into new and unique shapes, all with marked originality.

 

Isabelle exhibits internationally and her works are now to be seen in countless museums - in Italy, in the USA most recently and soon also in China on the Silk Route. Isabelle has benefitted from the cross-overs with many cultures to enrich her own palette: West, East, Africa have all influenced her through their century-long traditions of art and painting.

 

Isabelle’s experience and her wide range of interests transform her world view, and indeed ours. Her hunger for knowledge is constant and eclectic. The intellectual library from which she draws is vast. Her hands are restless in their search for creative possibilities, in a ferment of activity - exploring, creating and shaping astonishing images.

 

Following a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1994, Isabelle began to invent her paper costumes. She worked brush in hand, the ‘canvas’ ever at the forefront of her mind, to build four important collections, all in paper and tromp l’ceil , each interpreting a very different universe.

 

‘Papiers à la Mode’ the first of the four, told a fresh story of fashion from Elizabeth Ière to Coco Chanel. ‘Mariano Fortuny’ plunged the viewer into the universe of 19th century Venice, with the watchwords of pleats, veils and elegance. ‘I Medici’ took us by the hand through the streets of Florence to meet famous personalities, in all their pomp and circumstance, who made the Renaissance into a glittering epoch with its gilt, pearls, silk and velvet swathes. The technique of tromp l’ceil here reached new heights of rediscovered richness and luxury. Finally, ’Ballets Russes’ paid homage to Serge De Diaghilev, while celebrating the works of Pablo Picasso, Léo Bakst and Henri Matisse who had all designed for his ballets.

 

Isabelle de Borchgrave’ has without any doubt become a name, a logo almost in her own right, a label that one immediately associates with fashion and paper but also a name that is intimately linked to the contemporary worlds of art and design. She has worked closely with Caspari and with porcelain makers Gien, Target, Villeroy & Boch. Isabelle has both a sparkling imagination and a tenacious work ethic and she uses both to guide us into and through a multifaceted artistic labyrinth. With her as guide we discover a unique aesthetic vision - a galaxy of light, fantasy and craftsmanship. Her world makes up a whole; fabrics and wallpaper, table services and curtains, sheets and tailored decorations for both special events and intimate evenings. It is a universe in which she has grown and evolved, one which she has coloured with her own lived experience and which she animates with her deep art-historical knowledge.

 

However, over 40 years of career, she has never lost sight what drove her to create in the first place: her love of painting. She continues to exhibit canvasses and her large scale sculpted paper creations all over the world. She continues to work and exhibit in bronze.

 

Isabelle’s imagination is always at work. She is always alert, open and curious about the world around her. We might say that she travels joyfully in the steps of art history, and through the artistic traditions of global and traditional costume making. Isabelle is also a follower of the Nabis art movement; she too reinterprets the world around her as it unfolds its richnesses in an endless dream of shimmering colour.

 

Here we have the proof, if proof were needed, of her on-going search for new horizons, original creations and fresh ideas.

 

[1] Picasso; Workshop du Minotaure au Minotaure (exhibition planned for the Palais Lumière d’Evian, under the aegis of the Picasso Museum, Paris, Picasso-Mediterranean 2017 - 2017 - France, which takes place 30th June to 7th October 2018; see attached documents and exhibition list