Carpenters Workshop Gallery is proud to announce its latest collaboration with German artist, Roger Herman. The Los Angeles-based artist will exhibit for a solo show his collection of ceramic bowls and vases painted in bold, vivid colors, at the gallery’s London space.
Throughout Roger Herman’s career, there has been a focus on controversial themes of mortality and pornographic references in both his painting and ceramics, which has fascinated his fans. However, his exhibition at Carpenters Workshop Gallery will showcase an alternative side of his ceramic works that experiment with color, another central aspect or the artist’s work, the artist himself saying that the subject of his work is always paint.
Roger Herman’s use of color is renowned in his recent work. Despite its characteristic arbitrariness, there is real mastery in the works that the artist creates, which brought him recognition as the West Coast king of the 80s neo-Expressionist movement. Control he had mastered in his painting on canvas was taken away from him when he began to use clay. The artist became fascinated by how the colors changed during the glazing process, which ironically gave him more freedom to enjoy the sensations of learning to be an artist in a different way.
L.A. artist, Herman was born and educated in Germany. He moved to California in 1977 where he started working with canvases. Painted with a loose, colorful hand, they managed to be simultaneously expressive and conceptual, with traces of Georg Baselitz and Anselm Kiefer. Herman was recognized as the West Coast parallel of eighties neo-Expressionist movement. Gagosian quickly represented him and positioned him as the California counterpart to David Salle and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
In the mid-eighties, Herman was offered a position in the art department of UCLA where he continues to teach and explore a broad range of styles. ‘It is about painting, not about subject matter. I don’t have a narrative,’ Herman says about his work. ‘The subject is always painting, which is why there is a repetition always— like Morandi. I’m trying to go somewhere I’m not comfortable.’
In the last thirty years, Herman has contributed to the rise of several West Coast artists, who today pay their respects to him. Artist Cyril Kuhn says, ‘Every painter in the last 30 years who has come out of Los Angeles owes a debt to him’.
Between 1998 and 2008, he ran a gallery in Chinatown for a young artist group called Black Dragon Society. In 2010, at ACME gallery, he organized ‘Los Angeles Museum of Ceramic Art,’ a show of unconventional ceramics (…). He included his own lop-sided pieces, painted with nudes in erotic poses.
In 1998, Herman rethought the direction of his work, and began to work in clay. Although he had been a professor in the prestigious UCLA art department since 1984, he opted to take lessons from one of his graduate students, Lisa Yu. A self-described “binge worker,” Herman at the outset spent 10 hours a day throwing pots and drawing pictures on them of women engaged in obvious sexual acts, in the style of Japanese erotic prints.
Raw energy and an instinctual sensory relationship to colour and textures is immediately apparent through the bulk of his work, which spans from drawings to paintings, books to ceramics, t-shirts and woodcut prints. His wild blends of ad-hoc and quickly-dashed lines, shapes, opacities, smears layer together in awkward but satisfying compositions. They’re so careless as to seem accidental, but as with any material mastery, what looks effortless actually requires decades of practice. Gestures are as boldly applied as covered up, allowing shapes to recede and reveal themselves simultaneously, in a true polyphony of style.