SOLO EXHIBITIONS (selected)
2014 Home, an installation, Gallery Route One, Point Reyes, California.
2013 Manifest, Smith Andersen North Gallery, San Anselmo, California
2010 Entre el aquí y el ahora (Between Here and Now), guest artist of Photoimagen 2010 Festival, Capilla de los Remedios, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
El Silencio como punto de partida (Silence as departure point), installation of projected imagery and a sound landscape, Semana de Música Religiosa and Reseña de arte digital, Fundación Antonio Saura, Cuenca, Spain.
Germán Herrera, Fundación Antonio Saura, Cuenca, Spain.
2007 Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, Illinois.
2006 Center for Photography Woodstock, New York.
De Young Museum, San Francisco, California.
Caffé Museo, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California.
Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, California.
2005 Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, Oregon.
Centro de la Imagen, México City, México.
2004 Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, California.
1998 Galería Soruco, Oaxaca, México.
1989 Portion of earth entirely surrounded by water, Galería Kahlo-Coronel, México City.
GROUP EXHIBITIONS (Selected)
2012 Photo Forum 2012, the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, Texas.
Sin and Redemption, SFMOMA Artists Gallery, San Francisco, California
Not Kansas, Rayko Photo Center, San Francisco, California.
En Foco/In Focus: Selected Works from the Permanent Collection, Art Museum of the Americas, Washington DC.
2011 SF Camerawork Benefit Auction, San Francisco, California.
ReGeneration: Eight contemporary photographers defy the generation gap, a.Muse Gallery, San Francisco, California.
Houston Center for Photography Auction Exhibit, Houston, Texas.
2008 Escenarios Emocionales, Blanca Berlín Galería, curated by Alejandro Castellote, Fotoespaña. Madrid, Spain.
2006 Stephen Cohen Gallery booth at Photo Miami, Miami, Florida.
Bitmap-International Digital Photo Project, LOOP, Seoul, Korea.
2005 Winter Wonderland: Fantasy and Illusion, Fotografie Forum International, Frankfurt.
2003 Sustaining Vision, curated by Anne Tucker. Pacific Center Northwest, Seattle.
1993 to 1996
A Shadow Born of Earth, Contemporary Mexican Photography. San José Museum of Art, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California and Boston College Museum of Art, Massachusetts.
What's New: Mexico City The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois.
1986 39 Mexican Photographers, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, Texas.
2013 Guest lecturer, De Anza College, Cupertino, CA.
“The Path as Destination” The photographic process as a tool of Self knowledge. Centro Fotográfico Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Spring 2013, Oaxaca, Mexico.
2012 Guest Lecturer, California College for the Arts, Oakland, CA.
2011 Guest Lecturer, California College for the Arts, Oakland, CA.
Summer 2011. Centro de las Artes de San Agustin (CaSa) Oaxaca, Mexico.
2007/2008 Guest lecturer, California College for the Arts and San Francisco Art Institute.
2006 Opening presentation for Arno Minkkinen, Photoalliance, SFAI.
Guest lecturer, University of California, Visual Studies/College of Environmental Design, Berkeley; San Francisco Art Institute and California College for the Arts, Oakland, CA.
2005 Workshop taught at the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico DF.
Guest lecturer, University of California, Department of Art, Santa Cruz.
1995 He was invited by the San José Art Museum and the Museum of Photographic Arts
(MOPA, San Diego) to give a series of conferences as part of their cultural outreach programs.
Guest artist, Route One gallery. “Artists in the schools” program , Point ! Reyes,
Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, California.
Centro Cultural Santo Domingo, INBA, Mexico City.
Green Library, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.
Harry Ransom Research Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas.
Museum of Fine Arts. Houston, Texas.
Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California.
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Salta, Argentina.
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon.
Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, Philadelphia.
Blanca Berlín Galería, Madrid, Spain.
SFMOMA Artists Gallery, San Francisco, California.
Works&Conversations, No. 28 2015, portfolio.
Zyzzyva, No. 81 Winter 2007; portfolio.
Eyemazing Magazine, Spring 2007, portfolio with an interview by Heather Snider.
Visual Communications Quarterly, Summer-Fall, Volume 12, Numbers 3 & 4, Portfolio, pp.232-241.
All prints show in this site are available for purchase as Archival Pigment Prints on Archival Rag Paper.
Prints are available in two sizes:
16" X 20" Edition of 15
24" X 30.5" Edition of 12
For more information, please contact us.
LATINOS BEHIND THE LENS
Interview by Ramon Nuez
Germán Herrera Discusses What Has Shaped His Photographic Perspective
In all honesty, I read German Herrera’s answers twice before publishing it on Latinos Behind The Lens. Why — because I needed to gradually digest the wisdom of German’s writing.
There is a great deal of perception in Herrera’s words. So I am simply going to stop writing in hopes that you completely enjoy the interview.
LBTL: You mention, “The work points to a certain direction, the viewer is to balance the equation; she/he may recognize some aspect of the self in the piece, if so, two parts of the whole have communicated.” Is this the primary support structure for the art of photography?
GH: I believe it is the primary support structure for communication itself, which includes the possibility of growth and establishing kinship with anyone or anything. If something or someone, does not attract you, you are not accessing what may nourish you from that event, either because it is not there, or because you are not ready to benefit from it.
Marin Independent Journal
By Vicki Larson
When a friend invited photographer Germán Herrera to Cuba in 1987, he jumped at the chance, capturing the country's vivid street life in stunning photojournalistic style. It was a welcome change from the commercial photography the then-30-year-old was doing in his native Mexico City.
Then he stopped taking photographs for nearly 11 years. read more
DAYLIGHT BOOKS Alphabet of Light, #6,
by Kirsten Rian
“I have started believing that the value of art is the feeling it produces in us, artists, when it is ushered to existence, inspired... and, hopefully, the feeling someone living it and connecting with it, may experience; the transmission. But for that, you have to be able to recognize what is inspired and what is created, by a mind, a cartesian Newtonian mind asserting its separation from that to which we all belong (and perpetuating the dream we have been thought to believe as reality),” my friend Germán Herrera says, as we discuss art’s relevance and reflexive place. read more or visit DaylightBooks.org
Interview with Germán Herrera by Heather Snider
Art communicates truths or ideas that cannot be described by any other form of language. For this reason the most stirring art can also be the hardest to write about. Germán Herrera’s work presents such a challenge. Herrera’s captivating photomontages unravel directly into the topography of the psyche. They strike personal notes, resonate deeply, and do not easily resolve into answers or translation. Herrera’s work is striking in how it immediately tugs at the mind on a subliminal level. Below the shadowy, luscious surfaces lurk ephemeral manifestations of philosophical concerns. Many of Herrera’s works seem to be palimpsests of unknown origin, teetering evocatively on the brink of obscurity.
Herrera exercises an alchemical imagination, sampling freely from classical painting, devotional iconography, and his own photographs taken from the natural world. Fragmented figures and ghost-like apparitions undermine the picture plane and connect to a dimension beyond the world of rational thought. He draws the material for his collages from a personal matrix of widely interconnected cultural influences, incorporating the traditions of his Mexican heritage, his studies of photography and neo-Reichian psychology, inspirations from art history, and his musings on the present. We spoke with the artist from his current home in Northern California about the ideas behind his work.
HS: Your images have a rendering quality that is photographic but they are clearly not photographs by definition. Do you call your works photographs? What makes these works photographic? Is there a negative created in the process of making your work?
GH: You are right in saying that they cannot really be labeled photographs. I consider them image based digital collages, which is more of a descriptive term for what I am doing. I have started to refer to the images as “endographs,” a term I borrowed because, metaphorically, my imagery has to do with the inside. When asked what kind of photography I do I call it internal landscape or psychological landscape.
I am using the photographic platform because I was educated as a photographer. I studied photography, and loved -Cartier-Bresson, street photography, the full frame, no editing, “Zen Archer” approach. And I still do go out and photograph, responding very intuitively to whatever I tune in to. But now I print from a file, I haven’t used film in a long time.
HS: Your use of digital technology is an important part of your work but not of your vision, in that the style of your work has a traditional, photographic feel, organic rather than synthetic. How important is technology to what you are doing, both technically and conceptually?
GH: Crucial, but I don’t think I have imposed decisions on my direction thematically or technologically. This work was enabled by the digital possibilities and fueled by the need to express. Suddenly I could weave a much more complex discourse than I could before. It is my intention to accept reality as it is, not the way I would like it to be; I’ll explainIf I am limited by my camera, or by a certain paper, I will try to work within those constraints. Rather than limiting me this has opened up possibilities. If something is working, I don’t fix it. Digital output makes it possible to print photo-based images as “ink on paper” which has a resemblance to traditional processes like photogravure and photolithography. I love how the image renders on cotton paper. I have enjoyed the use of technology but at the same time I am very conservative with it. I am slow to change things. Recently I’ve been thinking of printing smaller while technology increasingly makes it possible to print larger. I just like smaller prints.
HS: It appears that you access any pictorial vocabulary you feel drawn to: images you create yourself, images you find in books, in your environment. Are there some images you wouldn’t work with? What are the parameters you work with when pulling in visual content for your work?
GH: I would not use copyright protected images or the work of contemporary artists. This project, called A Book of Mirrors, has developed as a water stain would spread, from within, the parameter being defined by where the stain stops. I am watching it expand on its own. I think that if it is happening it is because there is an importance to it as a process and I do not impose limits on where it goes. Most of the images are not the product of an idea or concept that gets translated into a finished piece; they are more like the visual expression of an emotion. My intention is not to judge anything. When I recognize something emerging, I work with it, by concealing or revealing it. It feels like I am being guided, through this process, like I am a vessel.
HS: There is strong tradition of Surrealism in Mexico, and the Surrealists worked in the philosophical terrain you are exploring. How do you think your upbringing in Mexico City might have manifested in your work?
GH: The production of the Surrealists has always been fascinating to me. Much of the cultural life of Mexico was influenced by the Surrealists, including the work of Alvarez Bravo amongst others. I was definitely aware of the Spanish heritage that came to Mexico City after the War. My grandfather was a hobbyist photographer, and he loved the work of a Spanish painter named Remedios Varo. I remember that she painted amazing, fantastical scenes with birds weaving starlight. My grandfather had books in his house of her work and he would take pictures of the details that he loved in her paintings and blow them up. His wife, Laura Cornejo, was an acquaintance of Tina Modotti and Edward Weston. Her brother, Francisco Cornejo, was an archaeologist and artist; he was responsible for the murals at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles.
HS: There is also a sense of the devotional in your work. Folk art milagros come to mind, and even alchemy. Can you talk about the mystic, spiritual quality in you work?
GH: I was brought up Catholic and definitely have a strong attraction to devotional imagery and Baroque Art. I love the aesthetic sense in which figures are rendered in Catholic and Christian iconography. Devotional is a word I don’t use much because I associate it with organized religion. I am also drawn to the alchemists. In a way we are all seeking a connection to the divine within. I think this is the most basic drive of human existence, imbuing our lives with a sense of purpose. The tools we can use to achieve that: dreams, plants, intuition, meditation… I was interested in all of these before I realized I had something to say with my art.
HS: I am curious about your titles, which are mysterious and tend to loop the viewer back into a reconsideration of each image, but then don’t necessarily explain what you intend to reveal or express…
GH: I feel there is nothing casual about my titles. My intention is clear, most of the time, regarding what I want to say about a piece; though it might be veiled. Generally I hint at a certain direction. For example, Don’t Follow the Wake is linked to a story I heard; there is no reason to spell it out. I know that the strength of what lives within the piece may reach some part of the viewer. I hope it makes a connection on an emotional level. Providing an excuse to dream, for viewers to create their own story, which is the one they must pay attention to and decode, not mine. I sense that what I am doing is accessing material from the Collective Unconscious and the emotional connection is an intrinsic part of this process of recognition, turning the images into mirrors. The more individual the search the more universal it becomes.
Germán Herrera has had a long career as a photographer, working in both the tradition of the street photographer and as a constructor of symbolic images. The works on exhibition here, produced since 2001, represent an artist who has established a mature, richly eloquent voice. Using digital technology he merges images of an array of common and enigmatic objects, natural elements, historic references, and textures and atmospheres. In doing so, he conjures a world that is at once wholly real and imagined – a chronicle of the subconscious. Many photographers working with the formats of constructed imagery or photomontage do so with a keen sense of intentionality, as a means of conveying a specific statement or idea. Herrera, in contrast, relies greatly on intuition and emotion, more interested in the possibility of locating meaning outside the arenas or pure intellect and reason.
Herrera has spoken of this body of work as a “book of self,” an expression of the totality of the beliefs, feelings, fears, and myths that reside within him. But in evoking a personal sphere he ultimately creates spaces for the contemplation of the universal. Each image functions as a kind of mirror that offers the potential to recognize something of ourselves; distinct interpretations or memories may be sparked for each viewer. Many of these works have an oneiric quality, as if envisioning fragments (a face or limb, a weathered surface, an old artwork) recalled from dreams but that remain tantalizingly beyond full comprehension. With his resonant mode of image-making, Herrera suggests that these ambiguous forms, and such realms as discontinuity, transience, obscurity, and even emptiness, may be fertile ground for creative transformation. In Herrera’s hands, photography becomes a medium for entering liminal spaces – between the physical and the psychological, the knowable and the unknowable – elusive territories that symbolize the possibility of grasping the metaphysical in the everyday world around us.
Elizabeth Ferrer © 2009
Site and contents © German Herrera 2017