Born in 1989 in Israel
Lives and works in Paris, France
In her research, entirely made of paintings of her surroundings, Nathanaëlle Herbelin creates bridges between the intimate and the political, between the personal and the universal: each painting is the result of an event or a relationship experienced and testifies to the different contexts apprehended. Franco-Israeli and based in Paris since 2011, she continues to travel regularly to paint in her native country.
Nathanaëlle Herbelin graduated in 2016 from the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris (ENSBA) with a Master’s degree and was invited in 2015 to attend the Cooper Union (New York, USA).
Solo exhibitions have been dedicated to her in France (Jousse Entreprise, Hôtel de Guise, Dilecta, Yishu 8 in 2021), at the Palestinian Art Center in Umm Al Fahem, in China (2020), in the United States (2019) or in Belgium (2018).
Her work has also been presented at La Fondation d’entreprise Pernod Ricard (2017 and 2022), at Bétonsalon (Paris, 2019) and at the Collection Lambert (Avignon, 2017), among others. Her paintings have been included in several public and private collections such as those of the Musée des Beaux-arts de Rennes (2018), Musée de l’Abbaye Sainte-Croix (Sables d’Olonne, 2019), CNAP (2020), FRAC Champagne-Ardenne (2021), SMAK (2022), and Lafayette Anticipations (2022).
Nathanaëlle Herbelin grew up in a small village in central Israel between a French father and an Israeli mother. It was in Tel Aviv that she learned painting, alongside Russian and Ukrainian artists who arrived there in the 1990s. From this land, she keeps her taste of the desert, silence and culture of the Negev Bedouins, as well as a close link with nature. Her work as a whole is underpinned by a contrast between a great tension and a certain sweetness. And her melancholy does not exclude, here and there, traits of humor and a certain lightness.
A few years ago, Nathanaëlle Herbelin was questioning the possible connection between her painting and photography. Today, that questioning has given way to new paradoxes and new ambiguities. She is hunting petty, commonplace episodes in reality. Once found, she examines them on the surface of her paintings in a mixture of mundanity and poetic transcendence, which is usually encapsulated in a dash of faintwit. Her most realistic pictures are the most ambiguous, for example the large interior inspired by Georges Perec’s Les Choses, which is also the library in an apartment lent by a painter friend. It expresses her fascination with the idea of one’s own house, somewhere between tangible presence and fictional world.
Recently, odd scenes have appeared in her pictures, like comments on what she might have done, had she been an abstract painter. They are hijacked memories of the school of fine arts: unrecognizable views of exhibition sites, nooks in studios, a trestle whose shape conjures up a metal module, an easel, or the remains of an installation, a black box for showing videos, which resembles a monochrome in front of dark red walls. Just a few months older, a small still life showing a piece of flattened cardboard, found on the ground in a street, is not an abstract sculpture, but one of those protective things that you put around a takeaway coffee cup to stop your fingers being burnt.
At the same time, and running counter to this research—or rather in exactly the same vein Nathanaëlle Herbelin has embarked on a new adventure: portraits of strangers, made haphazardly from encounters in the street and in the rooms of a museum, and portraits of close friends who have posed for her, either alone or in groups, they, too, the receptacles of stories we shall never know. To start with, they looked away, then, increasingly, they now face their present and the oldfashionedness of painting […]