[ PORTRAITS ]
Visual artist // Belgium
Talk with Pascale Risbourg
"We were out in the vineyard, the scenery was to die-for, so was the light. And the winegrower told us how the wine had been designed."
From ceramics, wallpaper and drawings to rugs, Pascale Risbourg is a multi-tasker when it comes to design. A French national based in Belgium, she designs pieces that are either unique or produced in very small quantities. Before flying to New York, where she is exhibiting this October, she invited us to the Lionel Jadot workshop, a hive of creative activity where around thirty artists and craftspeople work in the suburbs of Brussels. Here, we spoke about her tastes in wine, the role played by her family history in those tastes, and even its influence on her life as an artist.
How do you enjoy wine?
I don’t know that I particularly have a ritual, but certain aspects of enjoying wine are more meaningful to me than others. Firstly, I like to open the bottle myself. It’s like when you carve a chicken, you get physical enjoyment out of preparing it and actually doing it. Hearing the sound of the cork and pouring the wine into the glass are all part of the experience. The other essential aspect is sharing. I don’t drink wine alone, I always drink it in good company. In that respect, the aperitif is the perfect occasion for me, it’s where you engage with others.
I like to open the bottle myself. It’s like when you carve a chicken, you get physical enjoyment out of preparing it and actually doing it.
Does sharing also help create memories?
My husband, who is a very keen wine enthusiast, and I took part this summer in a wine tasting at a winegrower’s in the Pic Saint Loup, a Languedoc appellation in the South of France. We were out in the vineyard, the scenery was to die-for, so was the light. And the winegrower told us how the wine had been designed. When you share wine like this, it becomes fully meaningful, yes. There is something privileged about it.
How do you choose wine?
I am not a connoisseur, far from it, and I have always surrounded myself with people whose knowledge is much greater than mine. One thing is for sure though – I do not compromise on flavour. I’m more of a red wine person – I virtually never drink white wine – and I also enjoy Champagne. Above all, I like discovering new things and experimenting. When natural wines are not faulty, they pique my interest. And some regions are dearer to my heart, like the Loire Valley and Languedoc.
The shape and curves of a bottle of wine are very sensual.
You don’t define yourself as a connoisseur but you do have a long-standing relationship with cellars and wine…
It’s true that I did grow up in the restaurant business. My mother ran an inn serving gourmet food near Rambouillet. There was a huge cellar that housed some real treasures, including some top growths. Occasionally I would secretly go and pick some out when my friends came to the house. I really admire my mother for her extensive knowledge of wine and her career. At the time, it was a very male-dominated world. She managed to carve out a place for herself, and always did so very elegantly. The way she moved her hand when she tasted a wine still inspires me today. She also taught me how to distinguish between the different types of glasses, recognise bottles and identify regions. The shape and curves of a bottle of wine are very sensual. I think that’s what touched me first and it continues to shape my relationship with wine today.
Did this also affect your development as an artist?
Let’s say it resonated with what already appealed to me. Even today, I attach a lot of importance to a label’s design. Nowadays, it expresses genuine creativity. When I choose a wine in a cellar, I’m happy to let myself be guided by the appearance of the bottle, and by the poetry in the name. All of this lifts my spirits and helps increase the enjoyment. A bottle almost becomes an accessory. When you go to a dinner party with a wine that has an unusual name and a sensitively designed label, it sends out a message. The French saying goes, ‘No matter what the euphoria comes from, it’s still euphoria’. I would put that into perspective!
When I have to choose a wine in a cellar, I’m happy to let myself be guided by the appearance of the bottle.
Photographer - Laetizia Bazzoni