Serenity, Energy, Power: An Interview with Aude Herlédan

Rosenberg & Co.
Nov 30, 2022 3:36PM

Except from the exhibition catalogue Aude Herlédan: Dialogue Between Worlds (October 15–December 17, 2022).

It was our privilege to speak with Aude Herlédan about her work, and to learn more about her processes and inspirations. Herlédan’s work remarkably unites the inherent strength and serenity of her media with the vibrancy of her aesthetic vision.

Rosenberg & Co.: Your body of work has an undeniable consistency, from your canvases to your sculpture. In fact, you once wrote: “Sculpture and painting are inseparable for me, the two practices feeding each other. My sculptures are always graphic and most of my paintings are sculptural.” Do you have a particular practice of working back and forth between painting and sculpture?

Aude Herlédan: There are no rules and no lines between these two disciplines. There are, however, two different rhythms.

I go to my sculpture studio at least once a week. I always have one or two projects in the works. Sculpting, for me, is a creative break. The relationship with time is different than for painting. I can work freely on my sculptures. There is never any rush. I share a studio with other artists. It is a place for exchange and always a pleasant and joyous time.

On the contrary, painting, for me, is a solitary activity. I need to be alone to give all of myself to the work that I am creating.

The link between these two practices is drawing. Before anything, I draw, and my ideas take shape on paper. For sculpture, my drawing is more technical. I enjoy making studies in the classical manner. I use pencil, ink, charcoal, and coffee.

For painting, I do several sketches. When the idea is clear on paper, I can attack the canvas and decide on the medium that I will use. It is the one that best express the idea.

Aude Herledan
Nzuri, 2020
Rosenberg & Co.
Aude Herledan
Etude Nzuri, 2021
Rosenberg & Co.

R & Co.: What instigates your choice of medium?

AH: There are always new materials and techniques to be uncovered. For my sculpture, I work with clay, bronze, marble, and stone.

For my painting, I use a white material, which I have specially made for me. I also use lacquer, ink, gold leaf, lava dust… all these materials work together to enable me to tell my stories, express ideas and provide a special texture unique to my paintings.

R & Co.: Speaking of the “white material,” you have previously written that you “paint to make white visible.” Can you elaborate on this bespoke medium?

AH: The white material is what enables me to display my emotions. The material is soft, unctuous, occasionally silky, but also strong, dynamic, and full of energy.

Initially, I used other, more traditional media, which did not really answer my needs. Accordingly, I worked with a manufacturer of art paints to develop the material. I wanted to communicate the serenity that has come to me with age and experience, as well as the energy and the willpower that I like to share.

This white material, which is close to ivory and porcelain, lets me express all these feelings while adding the force of light. Emotions and feelings are shown.

Aude Herledan
Somewhere in space, 2020
Rosenberg & Co.

R & Co.: It must be fascinating to work with a medium of your own design. Are there other materials you would like to work with in the future?

AH: I am always seeking out new experiences. For example, I am currently working on glass works in collaboration with a master glassmaker in Venice.

R & Co.: How do you know when a work is finished? What are key elements of your process?

AH: I know when a work is finished because it has been pre-determined on paper.

I often experiment with new media and sometimes I encounter issues between the idea and the realization of the work. I then return to my sketches again and start working until I find the right expression of my idea.

The key to my creative process is to transition from thought to drawing, and then the realization flows naturally from there.

Aude Herledan
Composition AN, 2021
Rosenberg & Co.
Aude Herledan
Conversation, 2022
Rosenberg & Co.

R & Co.: Are your titles related to this working process?

AH: There are no specific rules for how I title the paintings. Titles often come to me spontaneously. They can come from a poem, a book, a film, a song…there are many sources of inspiration. I try to always be closest to the initial idea.

For the sculptures, the titles are inspired by women whom I have met and are dedicated to all women.

R & Co.: And what about your choice of frames? Each one is so intentional and adds an additional sculptural element to your paintings.

AH: The frame is part of the work. It completes and finishes it. I pay a lot of attention to frames. Sometimes, I even color them myself so they perfectly match the painting.

I often buy old frames. The canvas is then made to order, and the painting is partly inspired by the frame. I am passionate about objects that have a story to tell, and frames are part of this passion. I buy them at auctions, from antique dealers in France and abroad. I do not have any rules in choosing frames; the choice always comes from a feeling, a spontaneous desire.

R & Co.: Have any artists been particularly influential to your practice?

AH: I have a strong interest in Modernism. I admire the work of Nicolas de Staël, Georges Braque, the Pollock brothers, Ellsworth Kelly (for his graphic simplicity), Sonia Delaunay, Alexander Calder, Milton Avery, Pablo Picasso of course, and a number of others.

At a young age, I was very impressed by Henry Moore’s and Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture. I was living in London, and it was easy for me to see their work frequently. Henri Laurens, Jean Arp, Augustin Cardenas, Camille Claudel, and tribal art were also very inspiring.

I am very interested in the classics and, particularly, 18th century painting—the colors and the subjects are magnificent. I also very much appreciate frescoes, whatever their subject or their origin. Murals present another relationship between time and space.

Aude Herledan
Femme allongée, 2019
Rosenberg & Co.

R & Co.: Those Modernist influences come across very clearly in your work. It is also easy to see the influence of fresco in the texture of many of your paintings and sculptures—your work is clearly very multidisciplinary. Are you inspired by other artistic media as well?

AH: Writing, literature, and poetry have influenced and inspired my work: Albert Camus, Romain Gary, Stephan Zweig, Sándor Márai, Hermann Hesse, Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa, Erri de Luca, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Oscar Wilde are, for example, writers who awaken me and make me think. Poetry is even more intense.

My father wrote every day. We shared a love of words. My painting Souvenirs Epars is dedicated to him.

I, of course, read all kinds of contemporary literature with a particular interest in foreign literature; Israeli, Turkish, German, English, American. I am always alert to and curious about all creative forms. French and foreign literature open me up and help me understand other realities. Fashion, design, movies, photography are all part of my life.

Aude Herlédan: Dialogue Between Worlds is on view through December 17, 2022 at Rosenberg & Co., New York.

Rosenberg & Co.