Peter Joseph and Carmen Herrera
23 November 2010 – 29 January 2011
Peter Joseph 'In Conversation' with Mathew Collings and Greg Hilty.Friday 14th January, 12:30 - 13:30, 29 Bell Street, London NW1 5BY.
There is much that Peter Joseph and Carmen Herrera share in their lifelong dedication to abstraction. Both senior figures, their work avoids being heroic. Paintings often hinge on the juxtaposition of colour brought together in a way that creates a certain unity; titles are usually statements of material, visual fact. Joseph is best known for his two-colour paintings, those of the 1960s being boldly geometric, relying on primary colours and optical effects; for Herrera the more lyrical abstraction of her early paintings gave way to a focus on pure geometry. The precision of her work in black and white from the beginning of the 1950s, the simplicity of their geometric structure and austerity of her palette, prefigure and anticipate the optical, kinetic and hard-edge minimalism of 1960s New York with artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland. However for Herrera she refutes the tag of Op Art feeling it too simplistic a description of what she was attempting to achieve. Likewise Joseph, regarding himself as a classicist, considers the association with minimalism unconvincing, citing early Venetian and Florentine painting as a more appropriate touchstone.
Cuban artist Carmen Herrera was born in Havana in 1915, moving frequently between France and her homeland throughout the 1930s and 40s, before finally settling in New York in 1954. Born in 1929 Joseph is the only artist to have shown with Lisson Gallery since it opened in 1967. Despite the visionary nature of her work and association with artists of great reputation, including Barnett Newman and Leon Polk Smith, Herrera’s paintings were the subject of few exhibitions – until a large-scale survey at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham in 2009 – a story familiar to many women artists of her generation, emerging during the post-war years. For Joseph, a self taught artist moving from advertising, his has been a more consistent career, yet one characterised by a similarly serious attention to the potential of abstraction within tightly defined constraints. Both artists’ careers ran parallel to the generation of minimal artists such as Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman and Brice Marden but at the time neither received the attention that the quality of their work deserved.