Jack Hanley Gallery presents Roger Herman’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, featuring ceramic vessels from the past six years.
Herman’s ceramics continually shift between abstraction and figuration, pair vivid palettes with dark colors and shiny bright surfaces with matte earthy tones. This range of technique is held together by a gestural rawness and vibrancy that is inherent to each sculpture: drips of paint run down the exteriors of the hefty vessels and bowls with occasional window-like holes, sharply cut open.
Herman’s imagery reads like an archeology of styles; it is equally drawn from pop culture and a variety of art historical tropes: mangas, erotica, surrealism or Paleolithic cave paintings. Like an exquisite corpse, the only prevailing constant is the randomness of choice, the embrace of chance with an inexhaustible curiosity for the renewing nature of the painting process in itself.
Among the variety of imageries, the human body is pervasive throughout Herman’s sculptural work, whether it’s the recurring vanitas motif of the skull, the bodily shape of the vessel, or painted faces with protruding noses or ears. Haptic and sensual, their immanent physicality also reflects the corporeal act of painting and building up the clay. The painted figures and faces call to mind ancient cave paintings and just like them, they leave their mark and emphasize the presence in its vivid materiality.
Roger Herman (b. in Saarbücken, Germany, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) has shown widely in the United States and Europe. Solo exhibitions include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and Museo del Arte Contemporana, Mexico City. Many group exhibitions featuring Herman’s work include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; MoMA P.S. 1, New York; the Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis; the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Museum Ludwig, Saarlouis, Germany; and Art Museum of São Paulo, Brazil. Herman has been on faculty for the department of painting and drawing at UCLA since 1990. He was also the co- founder of the Black Dragon Society in Los Angeles from 1998 – 2008. In 2019, Herman will be included in a survey show of contemporary American artists working with ceramics at the National Museum in Sêvres, France. In 2020, he will be included in an exhibition at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France.