Stéphanie de Malherbe‘s paintings are rooted in her love of drawing and colour, her work as a fabric designer and illustrator for Jean Paul Gaultier – the avant garde Haute Couture fashion designer – who she worked with on the costumes for Luc Besson’s wonderful film ‘The Fifth Element’. This experience in the fashion world helped her develop her own personal style, an aesthetic that can be also found in the work of Toulouse Lautrec whose figurative paintings were influenced by Japanese woodprints and the decadent life of the Belle Époque.
Like Lautrec, de Malherbe’s paintings depict people in their own environments, her use of rich impressionistic colour creating a sense of serenity and calmness, a oneness between man and nature, an almost spiritual sense of the divine. It’s a highly stylised aesthetic that looks beyond the physical and into the essence of who we are and our relationship to the world. Each painting revealing a beauty that is otherwise hidden amongst the concrete reality of our daily lives.
In de Malherbe’s paintings we are invited into a silent world of reflection and peace, without time or pressure, her subjects at rest, contemplating their existence and happy within themselves. This approach to figurative painting is not so much about the portrait as it is about exploring the human condition and opening up a conduit into a world of inner peace. Here’s what Edgardo Koestinger has to say about her work:
Stephanie paints in her studio which is enveloped in the special light of an eternal morning. Her interior peace finds its inspiration in these moments, and therefore in an almost religious silence, her search for lines, colours and shapes on the canvas expresses all her being. Each stroke of her brush expresses her intuitions, each colour is a sensation. Painting for her is a necessity, an unending search for beauty. This reminds us that beauty will save the world, which in her case is filled with colour and hope. She lives in this way, creating colours and shapes with each breath. Her pictorial expression is a whole. If she couldn’t paint she would die – and I would die with her.