Rituals for Long Distances
Whether her subject is a portrait, an interior, or a landscape, a distinct sense of place permeates Herbelin's work, which may be in part due to her habitation of two worlds. Born to French and Israeli parents, the artists grew up in Israel and now divides her time between both there and France. Herbelin has spent much time in the Israeli deserts, first during her obligatory military service in the Israeli army, as a tour guide at the education unit, and then later on extended excursions of her own. She has witnessed firsthand the ever-changing landscape carved continuously by the hands of both nature and man.
This tenuous stability of place is present in the work. Herbelin paints deeply psychological interiors that intrigue the eye and mind with their sense of unease. The spaces she paints are sometimes beautiful, sometimes threadbare, but there is always a sense that the ground could shift, and what is present now could all come crashing down at any moment. This transitory shift extends to some of her portrait work, where her subjects are frequently depicted from the back, bending over, or staring off into a distance. But just as you begin to believe that this mutability is a hallmark of the work, Herbelin deftly switches gears again, her subject instead confronting the viewer with a measured and steady gaze. She has absorbed and synthesized the history of painting in her work, with elements of abstraction -- even geometric abstraction-- mingling with references to early Renaissance Masters such as Giotto, Fra Angelico, Pierro Della Francesca, to fuse a style that is nevertheless distinctive and singular.
Nathanaëlle Herbelin (b. 1989) is one of the most dynamic young painters working today. Her research-based process is grounded entirely in painting her entourage and her surroundings, resulting in work that builds bridges between the intimate and the political. Herbelin was invited to train at The Cooper Union, New York in 2015 and afterwards received her MFA from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris (ENSBA) in 2016.
Solo exhibitions of her work have been presented at Espace Bonnevalle, Noisy-le-Sec (2018), In-Box, Brussels (2018), and Jousse Enterprise, Paris (2017). She has also been included in numerous group shows including at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes (2018), who also includes her work among their permanent collection, The Collection Lambert, Avignon (2017), and the Fondation d’Enterprise Ricard, Paris (2017). She has been awarded the Colas Foundation Prize for Contemporary Painting, and the Yishu 8 French-Chinese Prize, as well as residencies in China, New York, Israel, and France. Born and raised in Israel, Herbelin divides her time between both Tel Aviv and Paris.