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Herman’s work was prominently featured in an exhibition called Looking Forward, organised in 1952 by John Berger. Berger adopted a broad view of social realism, and included Herman’s work despite its expressionist treatment of colour and form, and evident lack of period detail. Herman lived in Ystradgynlais, the mining village in south Wales shown here, and Berger felt that his paintings were of direct relevance to modern society.

Berger described Herman’s paintings as representing the ‘oppression, endurance, the weight of labour’. The notion that art should be about life was fundamental to Berger’s position.

September 2004