When you’re looking at art, is the experience all in your head? Thoughts, memories, questions and analysis are often associated with the mind rather than the body. However, the experience of standing in front of a painting has a unique way of reminding us that the body and mind are not separate.
Nationale may be a small place, but it has something for all the senses. When you first walk in, Marseille soaps and Olo fragrances offer a gentle scented welcome. Most people navigate the gallery counterclockwise, and the first thing they want to do in Nationale is flip through some of our books. The activity of flipping through books is a sensory treat for the hands, allowing us to touch and physically play with information as we read it. Plus, books make really nice sounds if you’ll listen. Even if you bring a friend to Nationale who doesn’t like socially relevant poetry, fiction and essays, they can enjoy the sound of paper’s friction.
This month, we’ve been exhibiting Soft Shades by Lilian Martinez. In addition to the show’s ideological and formal strengths, it is a visceral delight. The paintings’ sunny pastel colors are delicious, transporting us like a weekend getaway to LA, where Martinez resides. Something about her style of painting sends ASMR-style tingles down my back. The soft, luxurious texture of her acrylic on linen is amplified by large, blocky color fields and harmonious compositions. Delicately painted lines and the intimate, reverent depiction of strong women at rest induce a physical sensation of ease. In a weird way, the experience of looking at these paintings feels like having my hair brushed by my mother or friend. Did you have this type of experience with Soft Shades, too? If you haven’t been able to see the exhibition it will be up one more day: through March 11.
In the hallway near Martinez’s paintings, there are stacks of woven blankets and pillows from her line of everyday objects, BFGF. Due to the variety of blankets, we get to unfold them one at a time to see what’s inside, then refold. They bring out the softness in her paintings and transform it into something you can snuggle.
To conclude a sensory tour of Nationale, you can find two kinds of French lozenge candies at the desk. “Sève de Pin” and “Anise” may be unfamiliar flavors, but don’t worry. They are both delicious!
If you work in an environment that requires a lot of brain power, it can be easy to forget about the five senses. Especially during winter, it sometimes feels like the mind and body are two separate entities. As our clocks turn forward and the sun comes out, now is a great time to bring them back together. So come see us at Nationale! We even have floor-to-ceiling windows, for maximum sunshine and minimum pre-spring chills.