Richard Telles presents an exhibition of new ceramics by Roger Herman, a long-respected figure in the Los Angeles art world as an artist and professor, who has been primarily known for the past 30 years for his large-scale paintings and woodcuts exploring abstraction and figuration. In addition to his painting, Herman has had a long-standing interest in ceramics, employing traditional forms and adorning them with impetuous drawings of nude figures. His new ceramics on display mark a departure: the vessels have become biomorphic and irregular, over which he’s glazed rich planes of color—occasionally punctuated with figurative elements, allowing these vessels to verge into busts, and in turn, verging busts into paintings in the round. Recalling traditions from the twentieth century and beyond, established by artists like Peter Voulkos, Joan Miró, and Japanese Zen potters, Herman has fashioned an idiosyncratic take of his own.
Herman’s new ceramics are the fusion of multiple techniques: on top of each piece’s base, which are thrown on a conventional wheel, upper sections are then coiled by hand: it is a marriage of the centrifugal force of the wheel with the additive features of rubbing, layering and pinching. The result yields vessels with an unwieldy presence, as if a traditional pot had grown upward like a plant. This quality links Herman to Peter Voulkos’ improvisatory approach that bears a wholly organic appearance—further enforced by Herman’s boisterous and spontaneous glazes, resembling flat, painted compositions transferred onto a cylindrical plane. Some of the vessels have holes into which the viewer can see the painted interiors, as if a painting has turned in on itself. The web of painted forms and planes, each one offering various glazing techniques that flit between the opaque, translucent, and even the haphazard, seem to stand as imaginary girding for the structure of the ceramic itself. They are not simply adorned with imagery, but fused with its surface. Herman’s use of color attains a new physicality, heretofore unrealized in his paintings. These works thus distill Herman’s immediate style of painting in the round while transcending the merely adorned object into something sculpturally peculiar.
Roger Herman has shown widely in the United States and Europe. Solo exhibitions include those held at Ulrike Kantor Gallery, Los Angeles; Ace Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles and New York; Froment Putman Galerie, Paris; Larry Gagosian, Los Angeles; the Santa Monica Museum of Art; Museo del Arte Contemporana, Mexico City; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Herman’s many group exhibitions include The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; P.S. 1, New York; Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis; 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 legendary Black Dragon Society in Los Angeles from 1998 – 2008. He lives and works in Los Angeles.