los-angeles

Roger Herman

Ulrike Kantor Gallery

Ocean, 1979, makes clear Roger Herman’s problem as a painter and summarizes something of the condition of current painting. This large, brooding diptych is fashioned of horizontal green, gray, and black sweeps capped with ridges of stark white. Ocean is ostensibly painting in the wild, an attempt to match the power of its subject with the immediacy of paint; but the painting is inscribed in the upper right with the names of Albert Pinkham Ryder and Marsden Hartley, and Herman’s ocean view is a genre painting, a seascape. Herman’s expressionistic style, too, with its roots in German Expressionism and the New York School, is previously painted. His mean colors, thick pigment, and quick strokes are not a direct record of emotion and activity; they are not painting outside language, but signs for that painting, for an emotion and an activity that are no longer available. The expressionist act

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