I had the good fortune of running into Jim Herbert while I was out skateboarding around Bushwick over Labor Day weekend, and we got to talking about summer, about art, about shows, and about the then-yet-forthcoming season of new exhibitions. We also talked about how it had been a while since the last time I’d visited his studio, and how I should come by sometime soon. My suggestion for ‘sometime soon’ was, as it were, ‘immediately.’ So we strolled right on over.
Jim is among the most prolific and existentially devoted artists I’ve ever known. His large, indeed mammoth paintings are manifestly gestural, chromatically invigorated portrayals of sexually exploratory intimacies on monumental scales. By blowing so far up and out such ostensibly private moments of variable ardor, discomfort or bliss, and by doing the thrust of the painting with his hands or improvised tools as opposed to brushes or knives, Jim mines the allegorical and titillatory potential of some of life’s most delicate details in a visceral, consummate manner.
On that note, ‘consummation’ is here quite clearly relevant. And by extended matter of speech, also relevant are Mannerist palettes.
While Jim and I looked at a number of works from his past year or so of production, we had a good long chat about the difficult relationship between image and concept, and about how Gaston Bachelard has particularly keen insights into why that rapport is so aesthetically fragile. We also talked about unintended discursiveness and aspects of translation, perspectival parallels and frenetic compositions, quieted quadrants and exited picture planes, and a surprisingly pleasant color that can be achieved by mixing cadmium orange and titanium white. Photography and film entered our conversation as well, as did the vicissitudinous germanenesses of cultural critique.
Jim’s works are unabashedly, unwaveringly massive on both physical and metaphorical fronts, but that’s not to say that they shout their stuff. They seem more to murmur and hum, rather, and at times they’re as quiet as a rowboat floating about in some cattails.
Here are some photos from my visit. You can find more information about Jim and his work here, on his website.
Paul D’Agostino, Ph.D. is an artist, writer, translator, curator and professor living in Bushwick, Brooklyn. More information about him is available here, and you can find him as @postuccio on Instagram and Twitter.