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Nathalie Guiot: The Multiple Souls of Thalie

Nov 19, 2020

Since launching the Fondation Thalie in Brussels in 2018, in a popular neighbourhood for contemporary art galleries, patron, author, curator, and art collector Nathalie Guiot has hatched an assortment of multidisciplinary projects that resonate more than ever, as an invitation to expand our field of possibilities.

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Text by Marie Honnay

Since launching the Fondation Thalie in Brussels in 2018, in a popular neighbourhood for contemporary art galleries, patron, author, curator, and art collector Nathalie Guiot has hatched an assortment of multidisciplinary projects that resonate more than ever, as an invitation to expand our field of possibilities.

From the street, you don’t notice anything other than the silhouette of a nicely restored, neo-modernist house in Ixelles, whose façade includes a contemporary stained-glass window signed by Lionel Estève. It’s a colourful yet tender and unexpected wink of the eye; the beginning of the story that Nathalie Guiot wants to tell within this pluralistic and engaged cultural space. This house, which is in no way an art gallery in the main sense of the term, is also an artists’ residence. And last spring, it saw the birth of contemporary jewellery company Éditions Thalie, as well as of Ishtar publishing house, which focuses on contemporary poetry. This is the latest project by this nurturer of talents, who is more than ever convinced of the importance of uniting authors and artists around the multidisciplinary projects that open doors to the world of tomorrow. “I come from the world of writing” says Nathalie Guiot. “To create an intimate place around notions of words and gestures therefore seemed obvious to me. The period of confinement that we have been through this year has made it possible to more clearly perceive the importance of taking care of these moments ‘out of time’. Art, of any sort, is a response to the urgency of the era.

Humour in engagement

Even when her countless projects take her away from Brussels, Nathalie Guiot infuses every corner of this house with her radiant personality. An enthusiastic collector of contemporary art, and close to the women artists to whom she gives pride of place in her collection and in the foundation’s programme, Nathalie Guiot invites visitors to totally immerse themselves in a universe of colours, materials and textures. The artists’ jewellery that she offers through Éditions Thalie sets the tone: that of an accessible place, despite its cutting-edge programming, but also endearing and engaged. Engaged like the 18 ceramic plates by South African artist Ruan Hoffmann, another facet of Éditions Thalie; a poetic response to the period we have just lived, to this suspended time, to this sudden absence of benchmarks and certainty. That of the artist. And of us. We, the visitors who enter this house to discover a work, to listen to a text, but who are also invited to follow the foundation’s happendings through its rich virtual news. Sensitive to the importance of coming together and creating dialogue, Nathalie Guiot likes when the dark meets the light, even sometimes the humorous. The humour that can be seen dotted in the tapestries of Caroline Achaintre, guest of the Foundation this fall. A sculptor with multiple influences, the artist has developed her own aesthetic, the fruit of her experiments with ceramics and weaving. “Women artists are clearly not sufficiently represented in our museums. However, their work particularly moves me. So, I wanted to highlight the strength of their works, but also the attention they give to the medium itself. “

The power of the gesture

Nurtured by a thousand influences, Caroline Achaintre’s pluralistic and irresistibly interactive work echoes the collections of poems edited by Nathalie Guiot. This is particularly true of Traversée, published just after the confinement; a collection of testimonials by 20 women artists on the potential of creation in these difficult times. “Despite ourselves, we are in a constantly accelerating quest. Even with the pervasiveness of social media and images, this quest undeniably leads to some form of withholding of information. Poetic writing, especially when read aloud, becomes a unifier. More than ever, the audience needs to rediscover the musicality of the texts, just as they seek the beauty of an artistic gesture. Whether you are an artist or a visitor, this house is an opportunity to take time for yourself, to rediscover the luxury of slowness, of doing less and better. For me, the foundation is like a cocoon, conducive to thinking”, summarises Nathalie Guiot. Concerned with transcending the reality of today’s world through a poetic, playful and gracious approach, the curator and philanthropist has paid particular attention to the aesthetics of this book, as well as to the two others published by Ishtar: the hand-signed “Le Premier Jour de L’Étincelle”, and “Equinoxes”, a collection edited by the poet and writer Barbara Polla, which brings together some 20 poems from a circle of emerging poets. From the graphics to the eco-responsible paper, these three books perfectly sum up Nathalie Guiot’s approach. A work of curation that finds in this warm and welcoming house, so far from the concept of the white cube, a setting that matches its ambitions. That of offering a work space for guest artists in residence, but also a space for reflection outside the standards of the genre to, ultimately, support culture in all its forms, using an approach that echoes its name: Thalie, the happy and flourishing muse of comedy and dance.

Vue liquid, a solo exhibition of artist Caroline Achaintre is on view through 13 December 2020.

Couvertures des livres de poésie à demander : Traversée, Équinoxes et Le Premier Jour de l’Étincelle, éd. Ishtar.

Cover image: portrait of Nathalie Guiot  © Cici Olsson

Photos of the exhibition « Vue Liquide » © Laetizia Debain

@fondationthalie

@editionsishtar

Thalie Lab, by Michel Figuet
Thalie Lab, by Michel Figuet
Poetry works Ed. Ishtar Ph. Silvia Cappellari
Exhibition views Fondation Thalie, by Laetizia Debain
Exhibition views Fondation Thalie, by Laetizia Debain
Exhibition views Fondation Thalie, by Laetizia Debain
Exhibition views Fondation Thalie, by Laetizia Debain
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