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Josef Herman was born in to a jewish family in Warsaw in 1911, but left Poland for Belgium shortly before the Nazi invasion in which his family perished. In 1944 he settled in the mining village of Ystradgynlais in South Wales. Herman had nothing obvious in common with the Welsh mining village, yet he experienced it as a ‘home-coming’.

The features of the austere man-made geography of Ystradgynlais – the bridge, the slag heap, the people and the trees – recur through a series of paintings and pastels that formed one of the most widely appreciated artistic achievements of post-war decades.

September 2004