Isabelle Deschamps

by We Like Art
Interview with
Isabelle Deschamps

Isabelle Deschamps is part of the Board of the AkzoNobel Art Foundation and is General Counsel and Member of the Executive Committee AkzoNobel.

Isabelle is one of the collectors of this beautiful edition by renowned Dutch artist Jacco Olivier. We asked her some questions about her purchase.

Hi Isabelle. We are curious, what is it that attracted you to this beautiful work by Jacco Olivier?

Well first, I am a big fan of his work. Currently, one of his movies Momentum (2019) is on display at the Art Space. It depicts a man about to jump of a diving board; the whole scene is about hesitation. The endless doubting and searching that is part of any creation process

Jacco Olivier fuses painting and movie making; it is amazing and mesmerizing to see. The piece on which this edition is based is huge. I believe its three by two meters. To take such a large-scale piece and make it work on a smaller scale is quit an effort. Small scale is visually like speaking a different language but somehow the artist manages to translate it; nothing got lost.

It shows a vast and empty landscape occupied by a lone wolf. It is painted very spontaneously in big and bold strokes and colors blurring the lines between abstraction and representation. I lose myself in the colors, in the landscape and in the abstractness of it all…

Jacco Olivier, Terra Incognita (2019)

You are a member of the Board of the AkzoNobel Art Foundation, do you also have a personal connection to art?

I very much do. My mum studied art and painted all her life. I used to draw and paint with her during the holidays as well as being her model. My parents also collected art, mostly Canadian and European artists. As a young adult, I decided to study law, but I never forgot my love for the arts.

In university, I was part of a small group who created an art club in our law faculty, I oversaw exhibiting and starting the art collection. Obviously, it was on a much smaller scale than the AkzoNobel Art Foundation, but it enabled me to continue to connect with art and support young artists. It was an amazing experience!

And I am still an avid art lover - I go to museums and galleries. When travelling I try to see at least one museum of gallery. I used to live next to the Tate Modern in London and I spent many hours there myself and took my two daughters from a young age too. My daughter loves painting too. Art makes me reflect but also cry and laugh at times.

Why art in the workplace at AkzoNobel? What does it bring to the table?

Art is often about pushing boundaries. About trying new things, having a perspective and engaging with what we see. This is what we would like to encourage our colleagues to do at AkzoNobel.

Art is by definition diverse and, whether or not you like a certain artwork, enables – or even better - invites the viewer to take a point of view. This invitation to have a point of view is at the heart of inclusiveness and translates completely to the working environment.

Bernard Frize, Conducteur K (2003)

What do you think is the power of a corporate art collection?

A corporate art collection is an act of commitment toward the societies and communities in which we live and operate. A commitment that AkzoNobel has kept for the past 25 years without interruption. Now that is something to be proud of. A corporate art collection is about supporting individual points of view and perspectives in all their forms of expression! It is about being inclusive and being ready to be inspired, but also challenged.

Also, at AkzoNobel, paint is an integral part of our company identity. And art is wonderful catalyst for our business – whether it is on a plane artistically painted with AkzoNobel coatings, a historical building carefully renovated with one of our powder coatings, or through involvement in the renovation of a masterpiece like Rembrandt’s Night Watch. The connection between our art collection and our is business is, and should be, strong.

In Amsterdam, our art collection is everywhere in our offices, to be enjoyed by our colleagues. And now you can take a piece of the collection home. That is an amazing opportunity!

The Art Foundation has a silver anniversary to celebrate this year, 25 years of collecting. What is happening with that in these challenging times?

Unfortunately, we cannot now celebrate this silver anniversary of the collection as we would like. Hester and her team have developed a great anniversary exhibition entitled ‘We Are The Collection’. The entire exhibition is about twenty-five years of collecting art. About the artists, the people, the artworks, about AkzoNobel, about paint. Really amazing. It would have opened this spring. But postponement should not result in cancellation, so we look forward to the rest of the year!

And what we did celebrate is the publication of the anniversary magazine, or better, the catalogue of the collection. An incredibly good book, thick as a brick, with beautiful essays, stories, poems and reflections on the art and the collection.

And of course, we celebrate with our colleagues via ‘Collect the Collection’. Ten art works from our collection turned into editions and made available for all of us. A wonderful initiative and great opportunity. I am thrilled to hang my piece of the collection at home.