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Nathanaëlle Herbelin's subtle paintings

Nathanaëlle Herbelin is a figurative painter born in 1989, who lives and works between Paris and Tel Aviv. She was born and raised in Israel. She frequently spent her holidays in France, where her father came from, and visited the capital's art museums with her paternal grandparents (in particular the Musée d'Orsay). Supported by her parents, she decided to learn painting in Tel Aviv in the 1990’s; there she started to paint alongside Russian and Ukrainian artists.


In 2016, she obtained a master's degree from the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris (she had also been selected, as part of her studies, to take part in an exchange programme at The Cooper Union in New York). The following year, she joined the Jousse Entreprise gallery, which presented her first solo exhibition. She first made a name for herself with portraits of people close to her (and more recently portraits of strangers she met in the street) and still lives in oils inspired by the work of Giorgio Morandi.

Simon et Christine (2016), huile sur toile, 162×130 cm

The artist begins to paint directly on canvas, without prior drawings. Few layers are applied, and the final result is frequently scraped. With a colour palette sometimes reminiscent of frescoes—powdery, neutral tones brightened up by areas of pure, bright colour—she usually goes on to tell intimate stories and memories, which she wraps in poetry and sensibility (certain elements of her canvases are softened to illustrate the impact of time on memory). Herbelin, for example, recounts her childhood in Israel with desert landscapes in canvases that are sometimes very detailed. Whether directly visible through a human figure or not, a human presence is always felt in her work: even when only cold interiors are depicted–in the manner of the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi—a trace of human passage, like a displaced object, is always suggested. Her work is also characterized by a constant clash of dualities: intimacy and universality, the atmospheres of both France and Israel, tension and gentleness, domestic yet cold interiors.

His room (2019), huile sur toile, 160 x 180 cm

Her works are imbued with art history: all at once, we find the simple forms and flatness of the Italian Primitives, the impression of pictorial emptiness surrounding the figures found in the works of many painters of the Quattrocento (Fra Angelico, Piero Della Francesca, and Vicenzo Foppa, for instance), as well as fluid brushstrokes akin to the technique of Post-Impressionist painters. All of this contributes to a dreamy feeling that emanates from her canvases. Nathanaëlle Herbelin cites Les Nabis—a group of young Parisian painters from the late 19th century (Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Félix Vallotton)— as a central influence in her practice.

Claire et Cécile (2023), huile sur toile, 130 x 140 cm

Fittingly enough, it is in the room dedicated to the Nabis at the Musée d'Orsay that Nathanaëlle Herbelin will be exhibiting her works from 12 March 2024. She will bring their favourite subjects up to date: everyday life, intimacy, and nature. As part of the "polyphony of Orsay", the Musée d'Orsay has planned several exhibitions of works by contemporary painters (including Peter Doig this winter 2023-2024) in dialogue with classical works of the permanent collections. Nathanaëlle Herbelin’s contribution will update genre scenes with contemporary features (such as mobile phones and electronic power cables). She will also transpose contemporary concerns onto these types of compositions (a female model waxing, for example).


The young painter is currently represented by Galerie Jousse Entreprise and Xavier Hufkens. Her work can be already found in numerous public and private French collections, including those of the Musée des Beaux-arts de Rennes, the Abbaye Sainte-Croix, the CNAP, the FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, the Musée Municipal d'Art Contemporain de Gand (SMAK) and Lafayette Anticipations. She has also presented solo exhibitions at Jousse Entreprise, Hôtel de Guise (during a presentation by decorator Charles Zana of her first collection of "Ithaque" furniture), Dilecta, Yishu 8 in 2021 (she won a Yischu 8 Award in 2019), and the Palestinian art center Umm Al Fahem. Her work has also been shown in group shows in prestigious institutions such as the Pernod Ricard foundation and the Collection Lambert, or in various galleries such as Mendes Wood DM and Emmanuel Barbault Gallery, and more recently in 2023 at Galerie Perrotin and Michael Werner Gallery.




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