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Meet Colette Hebert

Today we’d like to introduce you to Colette Hebert.  

Hi Colette, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was born in Canada. When I was a little girl, I’d always volunteer to make the art for the chalkboard for any holiday or events at school. My parents noticed my fondness for colors and drawing and sent me to a private painting school at an early age. But it wasn’t until my apprenticeship with Leslie Schalk a Hungarian expressionist artist, a disciple of Matisse who taught me between other things, the “Lavis” technique (washed ink), a unique technique of black and white ink that I really enjoy doing. With him, I started to believe in myself as an artist. I discovered early on that painting is like breathing, it is something, a necessity I must do on a daily basis. A few years later, my exhibition in SOHO NY was the perfect opportunity to make changes and create a different technique for liberation without being constrained to using only brushes. I was ready for something different. In the 90s I spent my summers in Provincetown exhibiting my work and Passions gallery while also traveling abroad to visit my collectors in Europe and South America. 

Most people today associate me with Argentine tango. This is because at the height of my success as a painter I chose a new medium and I chose to paint with my feet. As an artist, I am drawn to emotions and in tango, you can find a physical and sensual exchange with an emotional connection through the intimacy of your partner. Combination of trust, great respect, and the feeling of being elevated with a vast bouquet of human emotions. My friends at the time thought I was crazy to give up my successful career as an artist but I needed to follow my heart and it was leading me to tango. So, during the day I was creating and selling my art in all the different galleries that represented my work and at night I would dance the tango, learning wherever I am, from the best Maestros from Argentina. By chance, I had met my dance partner, my new blank canvas, and within 3 years of training together we became the US tango champions and finalists at the world Tango championships in Buenos Aires. You can view our tango promo video here in case you are interested: 

Fast forward to 30 years and I have been teaching tango at my dance studio in San Diego CA. With each student being my new blank canvas. 

One day one of my students, an art connoisseur, when discovered my artistic background as a painter, and she immediately commissioned me a painting ready for her coming birthday. Talking of struggle…how am I supposed to remember how to paint after 20 years of not touching my paintbrushes. My hand will not know how to move! I was terrified of the idea and it took me 2 long years before one day I decided to sit and try. To my surprise, not only was I able to do it but what a happy experience. I didn’t know how happy I was when I painted. I was so thankful for her request it felt like a resurrection. She was delighted by my gift to her! 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
As I mentioned previously, it was due to my friend’s persistent request that I rediscovered myself and my paintbrushes. When covid happened my tango studio closed which gave me time to plunge myself back into my paintings but now with more maturity. While it has been a struggle to readjust myself to the new realities, I’ve also used this as an opportunity to develop a whole new collection ready for exhibition. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The technique is never neutral. A fundamental part of the effect of my work is due to my innovative technique from the superpositions from materials considered incompatible like acrylic, oil and gold leaf, ink, etc…. which in addition brings a rich and refined textural element to each piece. Through manipulation with brushes and knives, and plastic spatula, the motion becomes the form. I am interested in exploring emotions over depicting reality. I like to understand the relationship between art and life. Creating art for me is a plunge into the soul. The challenge is to put the entire emotional truth into the image. Art opens the door and takes me into something bigger than myself and brings a great sense of freedom. I like to explore femininity and sensuality through elements beyond classic imagery. Expressionistic, by definition, with contemporary approaches, to eternal fantasy or perhaps a perpetual dream. I’m identified with the passionate treatment of movement, not any kind of movement, but specifically the sensual and delicate movement of the female body. It connotes women with power, sometimes just at the limit of the figurations and just before the abstract explosion. To put a label, it is a kind of “new figuration” 

What set me apart is my ability to capture a woman’s sensual movement with a perspective of a female gaze without being too figurative while capturing the essence of the mood and feeling rather than the actual figure. 

How can people work with you, collaborate with you, or support you?
I’d love to interact with people as they view my artworks. People hold the truth and that allows you to see your own art in a new way. So, it is a symbiotic exchange. I get to learn to paint in a new way from these exchanges. 

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