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Interview with London-based Belgian Artist Natacha Bisarre: From Dance to Abstract Painting – An Artist's Journey

female artist in her studio surrounded by art
Natacha Bisarre in her London studio. Image courtesy of the artist.

In the dynamic world of contemporary art, discovering artists with fresh and captivating perspectives is a rare and rewarding experience. Natacha Bisarre (b. 1982) is one such artist who deserves your attention. Based in South East London, this Brussels-born, self-taught visual artist has transitioned from an accomplished dance career to creating mesmerizing abstract paintings that resonate deeply with the human experience.

Natacha's abstract expressionist pieces, characterized by earthy tones and soft movements, breathe life into the canvas. Her work delves into the complexities of human behavior, celebrating its wonders and contradictions. Driven by a sense of play and impulse, her intuitive process engages in a sensory dialogue with her materials, resulting in a dynamic interplay of gestures and marks that evoke a visceral response.

Her artistic journey and distinctive approach make her a compelling figure in contemporary art. Natacha's work has been showcased at Canvas and Cream Art Space, The Other Art Fair London, Somerset House, Brunswick Art Gallery, and Otter Gallery Wimborne. Each exhibition underscores her growing influence and the profound impact of her art. This interview offers a deeper look into Natacha Bisarre's creative process, inspirations, and the experiences that shape her work, highlighting her as an emerging voice in visual arts.

Dive in and discover the intriguing world of Natacha Bisarre...

female artist painting on a canvas
Natacha Bisarre in her London Studio. Image courtesy of the artist.

Could you please tell us about your background and the story of how you embarked on your journey as a painter?

Creative arts have always been at the forefront of my life; as a kid, I spent all of my spare time either drawing, painting, playing with clay, generally making things, and dancing. I was in dance school from age four, and I guess that was somewhat a focus because I didn't have extracurricular arts and crafts lessons, and in a way, because ballet is so closely linked to music, I think that made it all the more exciting. Later, in my last years of secondary school, I did a lot of acting. I was very interested in performative art, but I quickly realized that words were not part of my artistic language and that expressing myself physically came much more naturally. 

My career as a physical performer was quite eclectic. Having started in my youth with ballet, I studied contemporary dance for my degree and then added street locking, fire dancing, and aerial work to my repertoire, so versatility was definitely my forte. I worked for all sorts of companies and traveled all over the world, which was exhilarating, but it certainly wasn't all fun and games! I made huge sacrifices along the way; I mean, I lived and breathed my work, my social life outside of work was very limited, and I basically trained every day, taught dance over the weekends, and auditioned all the time; it's a way of life, really. Having kids changed that significantly. I just wasn't able to maintain that rhythm, but I continued to perform, mostly at the Royal Opera House. Then, when the pandemic hit, that's when I decided to invest in a studio space, and gradually, I phased out my dancing practice and focused on my painting. 

As a teenager, I loved working with oils on figurative paintings, but after my second child was born, I discovered Heather Day's work, and I think her work really triggered something in me that just pushed me to start working in the abstract style. It was something I was always interested in, but there was something about her work that just made sense and made me start to see where I could go into abstraction. I started on paper, small works using watercolors, and just playing really, but I very quickly found my methods. It felt very natural, so I ran with it. Then, I decided I wanted to work on a bigger scale; once I had my studio, that felt like a logical progression. I struggled at first because all I could find were primed pre-made canvases, and although I loved the pieces I made in the end, the process wasn't fully fulfilling my urges, so I quickly set about building my own canvases and worked directly on raw canvas and, well the rest is history!

female contemporary dancer
Natacha Bisarre dancing. Image courtesy of the artist.

Can you delve into how your background in dance informs your visual art practice, particularly in terms of how you observe and depict the human form?

That's a really great question. Thank you for asking. I ask myself that question all the time, actually, and I think a huge part of my practice involves investigating the relationship between the two art forms. On a fundamental level, I think the way I approach my paintings is the same as how I approach building a choreography, starting with acknowledging the space and with a simple motif of energy lines and trajectory, then building on that with details. In terms of my inspiration coming from the human form, I think that's where the emphasis changes: as a dance maker, I used my body to create shapes to express emotions, whereas as a painter, I think I'm trying to give a shape to the emotions alone, which in a way is the same thing, just without the representation of the physical body. So, my abstraction is just removing the recognizable form and suggesting the emotional form. 

I can't really explain why I'm so fascinated by the human body, apart from the fact that it is an incredible vessel of potential, power, and agility—and it's just so beautiful! Then, if you factor in the relationship between the mind and the body, how they respond to each other, and how together they hold the potential for extraordinary strength but also how easily things can go wrong, it's that paradox that I'm interested in.

Natacha Bisarre, "Censorship of Circumstance." Acrylic and pastel on raw stretched canvas. 110 cm x 140cm. Framed: dark oak veneer tray frame, with black inner. Image courtesy of the artist. Click the image to see availability.

Do you have any pre-painting rituals or routines that help get you in the creative zone? Perhaps a favorite playlist, podcast, or quirky habit that sets the mood for your painting sessions?

Definitely music; that's the first thing I do when I get into the studio. Then I make a cup of herbal tea, and I'll drink that, maybe two before I actually get to work. I need time to settle in the space I'm going to work in, and again, that would be the same in a dance studio; it's just like warming up the body; I need to warm up my mind to be agile and vulnerable, gotta break down those walls before I can dive in!

Natacha Bisarre, "Censorship of Circumstance." Acrylic and pastel on raw stretched canvas. 110 cm x 140cm. Framed: dark oak veneer tray frame, with black inner. Image courtesy of the artist. Click the image to see availability.

How do you approach selecting the materials and techniques for each piece of artwork? How do these choices contribute to the overall themes and emotions you aim to convey?

I think I always start with colors, which I think comes from a sensitivity to the vibrations of those colors. I will also handle my brushes a lot before I choose them, so the sensory element comes in there: I feel the bristles with my fingers and palms and imagine how it will feel to use them on the canvas and see if that fits my mood. But it's all very intuitive. I'm not really thinking; I'm just trying to feel, and the music helps me do that: switch off the conscious mind and tune in to the subconscious. I don't think I ever really set out to convey anything specific I'm trying to give my subconscious all the power to make the choices. I think about what was going on in that moment only after the painting is finished.

Natacha Bisarre, "Teardrops on the Fire." Acrylic and pastel on raw stretched canvas. 114 cm x 144cm x 5cm (including frame). Image courtesy of the artist. Click the image to see availability.

Your work prominently features watercolors, inks, and fluid acrylics. What draws you to these mediums, and how do their flowing qualities influence how you capture movement and natural shapes?

I love the unpredictability of the fluid pigments and water; they help me give into the parts of me I can't control. And what's interesting for me, again in relation to the process of dancemaking, is that often, as a dancer, you have to problem solve when trying to achieve something physically that is maybe impossible. We find ways of creating the illusion of that possibility. It's often a negotiation within the limitations of the human body, and it's sort of the same with using fluid materials: you make a mark, and it will inevitably change, especially if water is involved. I think it's much more interesting to create something within limitations. Total freedom can be very boring visually. And the whole concept of change is something I'm interested in giving into; it's such a fundamental part of life.

Natacha Bisarre, "Teardrops on the Fire." Acrylic and pastel on raw stretched canvas. 114 cm x 144cm x 5cm (including frame). Image courtesy of the artist. Click the image to see availability.

Could you describe your creative process when working with fluid materials? How do you navigate the balance between controlling the medium and allowing for spontaneity?

I have to give in; that's the challenge and the satisfaction of it, at least for me. The more I feel in control, the more fluidity I'll add to the canvas. I don't want to hold the control; I want to find the release of control. While working, I always look for that call-and-response dynamic, especially for the first layer. The secondary layers tend to be less fluid, and it's more of a sculpting action but still intuitive.

Natacha Bisarre in her London Studio. Image courtesy of the artist.

You mentioned having 'conversations' with your work while creating. Can you elaborate on how you respond to your art as it evolves and how this dialogue influences the final piece?

From the moment I start building my canvases to when it's fully prepped, I feel as though I'm giving birth to them. The relationship I have with them after that has to feel respectful; it's quite powerful, and it's not something I set out to do; that's just how it feels to me. Respect turns into nonverbal communication, and the changes that happen to my mark-making are caused by the intrinsic qualities of my materials, which feel like they are responding to my actions. It may sound completely bonkers, but that's the beauty of art-making. It's a safe space to let those surreal moments live. Or maybe I am just bonkers. Either way, I'm alright with it!

Natacha Bisarre, "Remind Me Why I'm Here?" Acrylic and pastel on raw stretched canvas. 60cm x 100cm x 5cm(including frame). Image courtesy of the artist. Click the image to see availability.

Finally, what do you hope viewers take away from experiencing your artwork? What emotions or reflections do you aim to evoke through your exploration of the human condition and its contradictions?

Introspection—that's really all there is to it. As an artist, I hope to help people see things they may not have noticed before or things they subconsciously have noticed but never given time to think about. That's what I enjoy when I see other people's work. I want art to remind me of the things that matter. The things we forget are important. 

I refer to the contradictions within the human condition specifically. I want to remind people that we are not perfect and are built to make choices within those contradictions. Ultimately, being guided by intuition is usually a safer bet because logic can misguide us and is often never to be found.

Stay up-to-date with the artist here:

Instagram: @natachabisarre


Hello! I want to underscore the importance of transparency in my work. I maintain no affiliations with the artists or galleries showcased in this interview, and I do not gain financially from any resulting sales through the provided links. My ethical stance extends to not accepting money from artists for features, as I firmly believe in recognizing talent based on merit rather than financial incentives.

If you're intrigued by the artist's work, I encourage you to reach out directly through the provided links. Should you require assistance in finding the right art for you, I am pleased to offer my art sourcing service—please contact me for more details.

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XX Jenny


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