Los Angeles

George Herms

Rolf Nelson Gallery

Herms’ assemblages continue to reflect, of necessity, his immediate environment through the availability and selection of materials. His litter has in common only the denominator of despair. These earthen, rusted, and gritty resources have passed far beyond the state of repair or contemporary easy appreciation of the warmly timeworn and are redeemed only by his stamped benediction of “LOVE.”

Held together by a blended patina of disreputable age, the organization of his worm-tracked, grained and flaked wooden plaques, faceted photograms, rags and roadside debris, feathers and false red rubies, etc., varies between heraldic formality and casual, even anarchical abandon. The wide ranging poverty of his materials is related to the development of themes: the primary, the birth of a daughter; others continue, the cross, and socially critical commentaries. Though veiled in a Romanticism of estrangement as well as in the webs of spiders, Moon Enters Aquarius, Pain Cross, The Queen Scene, The Film Maker as Hero, and Bassoon Case speak directly, making use of the literary, and either shockingly unusual combinations or reinterpretations of traditional iconography and symbolism.

From an ethic of naiveté in which all is possible, we may welcome this jetsam of sackcloth messages of a patient dreamer and reformer who gambles on impermanence like the medieval troubadour, and humbly and ironically stamps his labels with the modified NRA motto, “We do our (p)art.” We must however recognize that the random collage, from Schwitters to Rauschenberg, is as difficult to make meaningful and memorable as is an expression in any other medium, and here ingenuous indiscrimination may be simply license and of little aid. But undoubtedly a note of reservation will be of little import when the real issue is that a hippy recluse is bucking for sainthood.

Fidel A. Danieli

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