Pretty Ugly: The Deconstruction of Beauty by Nathan French

Brussels based sculptor, Nathan French, has been honing his skills in figurative sculpture for the past 4 years. Originally a fashion designer making wearable art, French blended his sculpting skills with over 10 years of fashion design experience, bringing about a perfect marriage of his two passions. French’s evolution into sculpture allowed him to experiment with an innovative and eclectic palette of materials, textures and pigments. The human quest for identity and its intricacies are the main focus of his work. As a person grows and changes, so do his crystals, organically over weeks, creating complex formations of their own.

Nathan French has opened his own gallery. SHAME represents emerging artists from around the world. The main focus is on art as activism, from the artists themselves or in their work. SHAME address’s the lack of diversity in the Brussels art market, by becoming its first political, niche gallery for contemporary art created by those who are still marginalised to this day, women, people of colour (POC) and LGBTQI+ artists or artists who reflects on anti discrimination and empowerment.

“Pretty Ugly: The Deconstruction of Beauty” opens Saturday 11th December. The group show seeks to break with the patriarchal paradigms of beauty. You are invited to leave behind this representation where people are reduced to physical objects. Let us admire beauty beyond race and gender. SHAME presents a selection of artists, which deconstruct and reconstruct along new lines. Beauty must be felt as it is : diverse and boundless. Portraits, Self-portraits, sculptures and drawings of eleven artists from eight different countries expressing their conception of the chosen theme. Artists : Ana Cvorovic, Chloe Nicosia, Feryal Atek, Ilke cop, Ingrid Baars, Lazarus Lazare, Lisa Lapierre/Nour Beetch, Mathias Vef, Mathieu V Staelens, Nathan French, Nina Van Denbempt.

I met with Nathan to chat about the project :

Can you tell us more about you, your journey and your art ?

I come from the fashion world. I realised that what interested me is not dressing the hyper-rich white bourgeoisie but rather, realising costumes that make art on the body. Sculpture was the best medium to realise this and thus began my journey.

Having a queer gallery in the Sablon neighbourhood is major for the LGBTQIA+ community. You already hosted several events, what can we expect for the future ?

We plan to have a regular cycle of exhibitions with these niche, emerging artists showing the best of Belgian art scene and artists and from all over the world. We differentiate ourselves by combining music and performance art with our shows. The finissage for ‘Pretty Ugly’ which will take place on 11th February will be the debut of this new concept. We expect major support and recognition from like-minded activists from local and national governments as well as celebrities who can broaden our reach and raise the level of exposure for the artists and for the gallery.

“Pretty Ugly – The Deconstruction Of Beauty” is the new exhibition that will be launched on December 11th. What is it about ?

There is a queer way to look at beauty that is very different from the mainstream. Beauty can be found in authenticity and that is the raison d’etre of this exhibition. We wanted to deconstruct the classical understanding of beauty.

12 queer artists will be shown in this new project. How do you proceed to select the artists you want to collaborate with ?

I’m not a commercial person. For me, it’s about authenticity, admiration and genuine friendship. It’s not about my perception of commercial value, it’s about my connection with these like-minded creative activists. I believe that this has an unspoken effect of boosting up these already accomplished artists and provides a halo effect to our common causes. We are making art to speak about our passions and desires.