Kerstin Paillard was born 1977 in Paris, France and raised between Stockholm, Sweden and South of France. She received a BFA in 1999 from the Contemporary Art School, Villa Arson, Nice, France and an MFA in 2005 from the University of Montpellier, France.

Kerstin lives and works between Nice, France and Stockholm, Sweden.

Kerstin Paillard continuously refines and extends the traditions of lyrical abstraction. Experimenting the processes and the limits of the dry pastel, and drawing inspiration from her double culture and legacy, her observative and introspective way of life and extensive travels, she brings together the immediacy of Abstract Expressionism and the intuitive gesture of Colorfield paintings (Helen Frankenthaler, Rothko), in her exploration of gesture, rythm and color.

She works by only using the pure pigments of the dry pastels (from Blockx and Sennelier), that she crushes and mix, smashes and smears, with her fingers and hands directly onto linen canvas, laid on the studio floor, working from all sides to create floating fields of deep and expressive color. She applies the pigments in thick layers to create captivating and sensitive compositions.

A colorist since childhood, she began painting at an early age, always attuned to the ways that color and light merged with thought itself. She has a long-held obsession with the skies and their ever changing designs. In her early works from the 1990s, she started using dry pastels that she experienced and juxtaposed on different medias, with various densities and layers, repeating vertical gestures. These led to related color fields works on linen canvas, that she later combined with the cloud-like forms, to create deep, spiritual and celestial paintings.
To preserve the special aspect of dry pastel and the brightness and deepness of the pure pigments, and to heighten the effect of each color, Kerstin developed a unique process of varnishing the pastels on the canvas by applying the mixture in many thin layers, in order to get a finnish comparable to an oil painting.

Kerstin Paillard creates paintings notable for their luminosity, texture, and sculptural presence. Her richness of palette and her use of only dry pastels crushed into pure pigment powder put on linen canvas, inspired by the dawn, the light, the landscapes, the nature and the skies of the South of France and the North of Sweden, create a compelling work of abstract art by which the viewer feels endlessly absorbed.

Spending time in Lapland (Art Residencies in North of Sweden), led Kerstin to create a body of work called Laponia, which captured the indigo sunset and the multiple hues of the Northern skies, a series of paintings composed of several interconnected artworks inspired by the light, the skies, the landscapes and the colors of these artic areas.

Her work has been presented by the FRESCO Foundation for the Nova Prize 2019, at the HRY Space, in New York, USA and will be shown, during the summer 2019, in the Museum Gustavo de Maeztu in Estella, Spain and in the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, NY, USA.

Interview, Art Reveal Magazine, April 2019 no.46


“Paillard was raised between Stockholm, Sweden and southern France. Since childhood, she has felt divided between the introspective, solitary culture of the vast Swedish landscapes and the more emotive character of the French. Looking for Northern Lights I embodies this personal sense of ambivalence. At first glance, the painting appears rather somber ; however, upon further observation the viewer becomes more aware of the light that seems to emerge from the layers of crushed pigment. The artist has constructed a visual trope about interiority, introspection and how mental process can bring about greater communal expressiveness. The canvas is meant to immerse and transport the viewer to a world of dreams and thoughts, aligning Paillard’s interests with Odilon Redon and the Symbolists of the late nineteenth century, at least in part. Painting with dry pastels, she crushes and applies these directly to the canvas with her hands. This physical process combined with an experimental painting technique allows for the unexpected to appear in her work as she encounters and overcomes unforeseen challenges. This type of process that vacillates between structure and intuition is comparable to Abe Abraham’s orchestrated movements that are countered by spontaneity and chance in his video work. Through a highly personal lens, Paillard reminds the viewer how much natural and built environments dictate the development of self, and that emotion, inward reflection, and the subconscious play a crucial role in creating a sense of belonging.”

Anthony Huffman, curator, Nova Prize Exhibition, FRESCO Foundation, New York, 2019

The FRESCO Collective is pleased to present a group exhibition of seven emerging artists selected for the 2019 Nova Prize.
In Northern Lights I, Kerstin Paillard similarly offers a painterly meditation on the human psyche, drawing upon her experiences with the landscapes of Sweden and France. Paillard’s work is meant to facilitate individual introspection through the use of abstract, haptic forms […] she is interested in ideas of interiority and how the individual relates to the collective in an increasingly isolated world. Paillard’s abstract composition encourages critical examination of self through accretions of pastel and crushed pigment.
A small selection of works by Takashi Murakami, Virgil Abloh, Daniel Arsham, Sam Friedman, Cleon Peterson, and Josh Sperling will also be on display in the exhibition venue. While separate from the exhibition, the proximity of these works encourages visual and intellectual comparison between the sets of emerging and established artists while augmenting the overall exhibition narrative.”

The exhibition is curated by Anthony Huffman with assistance from Baylee McKeel, Renata Baltar, and Jennifer Gutierrez, and takes place at the HRY Space, New York.

Interview for The Heroine Journey by Peter de Kuster (July 2017)

“Kerstin Paillard is a Franco-Swedish artist who has always been fascinated by colours, contrasts and the effects of textures. In her seaside studio she gives birth to vivid « dreamscapes » where the precious light of the north meets the brightness of the south, where the sea and the sky collide, where remote childhood memories become familiar and gather in a vast splash of genuineness. She uses dry pastels on canvas and paints abstract and stylized shapes that seem contagiously alive. Under her nimble fingers the tinctures boil, the outlines tremble, the multiple layers of matter expand to create a dreamy and forceful firework of colours.”

Pascale Louis, director Galerie Art sur Cour, Antibes, France.