Lisson Gallery

In May 2016 Lisson Gallery opened its first space in New York in Chelsea under the High Line. The inaugural show presented recent works by Carmen Herrera. Alex Logsdail remarked: "opening with Carmen Herrera seemed not only natural, but essential. She had been living and working in New York since 1953, under-recognised and hiding in plain sight, and, at the time of her show, celebrated her 101st birthday. It was a way of bringing something fresh to her home audience who had rarely, if ever, seen her work."

Estrellita B. Brodsky writing on Herrera in 'Ascetic Equation': "to achieve these pictorial resolutions, Herrera typically works through hundreds of sketches and drawings, often with numbers and calculations scrawled on their sides. 'I draw an awful lot. I use blocks of tracing paper, I draw almost a whole month before I decide on a canvas, then I have to make decisions on the size of the canvas, on the composition and then go back and put the thing together in drawing.' The artist’s development of arithmetic guidelines for transferring geometric designs on to a larger scale drawing is a working method that displays a rational basis. Nevertheless, the near obsessive pursuit of finding a correct answer by means of endless calculations reveals both compulsive devotion and intuition on Herrera’s part. Coloured sparingly with industrial acrylics, often directly from the tube and applied with an industrial roller, the final pieces are the result of months of planning and series of simplifications. In a way, Herrera’s process can be likened to that of resolving an equation, the variables being the shapes and colour of the different geometric elements.

Through the manipulation of stacks of drawings made on transparent graph paper, Herrera seeks to 'find the right solution to the equation and a relation between the pictorial elements'. As with an equation, she labours to discover a harmonious relationship between compositional variables, most often deploying basic geometric shapes. Herrera balances two equivalent elements, mirroring/reflecting each other as if on either side of the equals sign, which was devised by sixteenth-century mathematician Robert Recorde, because 'nothing could be more equal than parallel straight lines with the same length'. In other words, what happens on one side of the equation (or paper, or canvas) necessarily affects what happens on the other side. Not surprisingly, as a result Herrera’s work often conveys a strong sense of symmetry."

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