`I was drawn," wrote Polish artist Josef Herman (b. 1911), "to depict all I could remember as faithfully as a chronicler... ." What he "remembered" in his work, with an intensity which infuses the anguish of loss with a deep affection, was a vanishing past in his native Warsaw. Driven out by the Nazis, he had settled in Britain, first in Glasgow, later in Wales, and now, for many years, in London. But millions of Jews had been unable to escape from Eastern Europe. Herman himself learned in 1942 that his "whole family were exterminated in one day." But he added, "I do not care to talk about it; I hate self-pity. The most tragic things I see as part of being human."
His is a visual language of intense darks in counterpoint with a play of lights - giving the feeling of heroic or evocative dreams. His drawing technique has often been black ink and wash. The tenor of his art is transformed tragedy, a humanitarian realism. Warmth - outwardly Herman is the most jovial, outgoing of men - underlies his vision, so that what remains in the mind's eye of the viewer is a kind of awesome joy in living, a brooding exuberance.