French connection

Contemporary artist Pascale C. Fey creates a world of self-discovery

There are two things that Pascale Chaleyssin-Fey must do before she brings to life her appealing works of art: the first is to turn on some music or perhaps an audio book, and the second is to paint her canvas black before layering on blocks of colour.

It seemed fitting that, as we walked into her studio – a bright room filled with paints and canvasses at her home in Vale d’El Rei – on one August morning, the romantic sound of the accordion could be heard playing from the radio, evoking images of a bohemian French riverside café.

Born in La Rochelle, France, Pascale, a graphic designer by profession, moved to Portugal with her family two years ago. It’s a country she has always loved, having spent family holidays here since the age of 8, and the quiet surroundings of Caramujeira provide the ideal setting for the soft-spoken artist to create her incredibly successful paintings. But nature is not what inspires her: “The city inspires me. Things I see on websites, or even advertisements on a bus. I see a picture and start to transform it in my mind. I don’t paint nature; I paint people, situations…”

With acrylic as her medium of choice, Pascale’s dream-like paintings have become larger over the years, as has the amount of colour she uses in her work. “At the beginning I just used grey, black and red. Now I want to use more colours, because I’m happy to live here!”

A sort of therapy for the contemporary artist, one thing that hasn’t changed is Pascale’s companion, Georges, a mysterious character that appears in many of her paintings and has proved to be extremely sought-after by gallerists and art-buyers. Always shown from the back, donning a large grey overcoat and hat, Pascale explains: “He is anonymous; I want him to be everyone. At the same time he is me, my father, everybody. He can say everything I can’t, he is a reflection of my soul.”

The artist’s “avatar” is depicted walking in the rain, riding a bicycle, touching the stars or on a zebra crossing as he explores the world, with elements of colour and whimsy added in the form of a single balloon or a sea of umbrellas, for example. The only painting showing Georges’ face is particularly special to Pascale, who points to a picture hanging on the wall behind us. “That is my father. I will never sell that one.”

While Georges is very much in demand by galleries, the petite French painter has also developed other popular series, including the angel-inspired La part des anges, the imposing La Dérive des Continents, the shadowy Jeux d’Ombre, Montée des Eaux, which features a series of buildings standing on stilts above rising water, and the introspective Quis suis-je?, which sold out in a single day.

Now represented by the prestigious ArtCatto gallery in Loulé, Pascale has exhibited her work at the Tivoli Carvoeiro hotel, the S. José Convent and Arte Algarve, both in Lagoa, alongside several exhibits in her native France. Upcoming exhibits include shows at the Real Compromisso Marítimo in Ferragudo in September and Casa Manuel Teixeira Gomes in Portimão in November. In the meantime, the artist’s work can also be purchased in a much smaller form: working with her son Antoine, Pascale creates house name plaques which feature her quirky and very appealing designs.

Text Cristina Alcock

Photos Joana Alcock



Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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