Nicolas Ouchenir’s ‘portraits-signature’ go on show at Colette

Jeanne Damas: Paris est une fête, Ernest Hemingway by calligrapher Nicholas Ouchenir
Self-taught calligrapher Nicolas Ouchenir's 'portraits-signature' are on show at the Colette concept store in Paris. Pictured: Jeanne Damas: Paris est une fête, Ernest Hemingway
(Image credit: TBC)

Nicolas Ouchenir is a self-taught calligrapher whose talent surfaced while he was director of a contemporary art gallery in Paris. Obsessive to detail, he hand-addressed exhibition invitations in typefaces he created based on artists’ signatures. It made a big difference. ‘Receiving an invitation with your name beautifully handwritten on the envelope makes you feel desired,’ he explains.

Ouchenir began receiving commissions from Carine Roitfeld and Karl Largerfeld to design Fashion Week invitations, and private commissions to handwrite love letters for Russian and Middle Eastern clients.

An insatiable bookworm, Ouchenir was reading Michel Tournier when he received a call from his friend, Thomas Erber, curator of the Cabinet de Curiosités. ‘I’d just that moment read Tournier's phrase, “danser fou de désir en silence, les corps enlacés”, that evoked Thomas to me.’ Erber was ringing to request a portrait, which he needed immediately. Ouchenir took Tournier’s words and wove them into an intricate calligraphic portrait. It became the first of a series of 100 intimate portraits in cipher drawn from literary quotes researched and selected by the artist.

Twenty of these are on show in the Colette concept store in Paris. Twenty more portraits will be appearing as a road show in London, New York, Los Angeles and in an as yet unannounced destination in Africa.

Hugo Matha: Bleu du ciel, Bataille by Nicolas Ouchenir


The collection features the pages of many books, including Michel Tournier's. Ouchenir has taken the words and woven them into intricate calligraphic portraits. Pictured: Hugo Matha: Bleu du ciel, Bataille

(Image credit: TBC)

Galopine: La chamade, Françoise Sagan by Nicolas Ouchenir

From the series of 100 intimate portraits, 20 are on show at Colette. Pictured: Galopine: La chamade, Françoise Sagan

(Image credit: TBC)

Carine Roitfeld: Le poème continu, Herberto Helder by Nicolas Ouchenir

Carine Roitfeld: Le poème continu, Herberto Helder

(Image credit: TBC)

Joseph Beuys: Le parti pris des choses, Francis Ponge by Nicolas Ouchenir

Joseph Beuys: Le parti pris des choses, Francis Ponge

(Image credit: TBC)

Nick Cave: Mirror, Sylvia Plath by Nicolas Ouchenir

Nick Cave: Mirror, Sylvia Plath

(Image credit: TBC)

Marie Marot: La jetée, Henri Michaux by Nicolas Ouchenir

Marie Marot: La jetée, Henri Michaux

(Image credit: TBC)

Marie-Agnès Gillot : Commencement du corps, fin de l'océan, Adonis by Nicolas Ouchenir

Marie-Agnès Gillot : Commencement du corps, fin de l'océan, Adonis

(Image credit: TBC)

ADDRESS

Colette
213 rue Saint-Honoré
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