Featuring the latest works by Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist Roger Herman, this new exhibition explores the multifaceted approach of Herman throughout his artistic practice, and how he seamlessly intertwines ceramics and painting to unveil an assemblage of colour, texture, material, processes and form.
At the core of the exhibition are fifteen large, hand-crafted ceramics, sculpted from wheel-thrown clay. These works transcend traditional ceramic design techniques with their irregular shapes, spontaneous voids and protrusions which are ignited by Herman’s fascination with the transformative power of colour during the glazing process – a theme he’s passionately explored since the late-1990s. Evoking a unique and unpredictable painterly expression that celebrates imperfection, spontaneity and intuition, each piece is marked by an approach that treats the clay as a blank canvas, allowing brush strokes, dashes and lines to build texture and colour in ways not foreseen.
Complementing the ceramics are six large-scale canvases that echo the gestural and spontaneous vibrancy found in their ceramic counterparts. These paintings, alongside the ceramics, share a cohesive space within the gallery, illustrating Herman’s instinctive artistic methods developed through his experimental work with clay, kilns and glazes.
Adorning one wall of the gallery are a collection of Herman’s Mescal cups, tiny ceramic pots modelled after a jicara – a cup made from a half-dried fruit and used to drink mezcal tequila. The glazing on the pots emulates the same texture and technique seen in his larger ceramic works and paintings.
Herman, who was born in Germany and is now based in LA, is a painter and ceramicist, recognized as the West Coast parallel of the eighties neo-Expressionist movement. With works ranging from figurative to abstract, Herman’s journey reflects a commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional mediums, evident in the unpredictable and experimental nature of his works. His focus on colour and glazing processes, as well as his dedication to embracing imperfections, resonates with broader movements in contemporary art that challenge conventional norms. As a teacher at UCLA, Herman has been a prominent figure in the artistic community, with his work featured in galleries worldwide and held in prestigious collections such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
LA-based artist Herman was born and educated in Germany. He moved to California in 1977 where he started working with canvases. Painted with a loose, colourful 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.