One of the greatest joys of travelling for the arts is discovering a young or emerging artist whose work you know will have big impact.

The opposite experience is rare: stumbling across the work of a 103-year-old master whose work was largely ignored for eight decades, only recently to find itself quite rightly honoured as canonical of its discipline.

Havana-born Carmen Herrera lives in New York and has described her practice as painting works that should be sculptures.

I found being in the presence of her work a magnificent experience. I sensed the power of minimalism to evoke the most fundamental human sensations born out of the radical abstraction of perception. I pieced together new trajectories among known canonical figures. I experienced juxtaposition, structure and form as resonating compositions, where colour and line took on weight and demanded focus. I didn’t want to leave the spaces her works had created.

It was only when Herrera was in her eighties that her work gained substantial exposure, and even then only because somebody else dropped out at the last minute. By that point Herrera has been told to her face that she wouldn’t be included in exhibitions because of her gender – she was once told this by a female curator.

No links, no quotes… I leave the pleasure of researching her entirely to you. (Hint: start with the Lisson Gallery, who’ve been pivotal to the reception of her work.)


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All photographs by Esther Anatolitis at Carmen Herrera: Estructuras, Lisson Gallery, New York, 14 September to 27 October 2018.