Howard Hersh

Artist Profile

Howard Hersh

Lives and works in San Francisco, CA

Geometric abstraction defines Howard Hersh’s process-based paintings, where image, surface and structure make one dynamic subject. The artist is self-taught and creates without a brush, opting instead to trowel, gouge and scrape acrylic paint atop wood panel assemblages. His resulting imagery activates shifting planes and platforms in a single composition, complicating two and three dimensional perception.

Over the breadth of Hersh’s decades’ long career, his practice has evolved toward concerns of sculpture. He’s known to prioritize woodworking and the framework of painting's support—collapsing image and form in the traditions of Constructivism and Minimalism—whereas earlier works plainly depict loose quadrangles in encaustic, rendered on a contained image ground as painting. Recently, however, the work leans into straight-forward illusionism. Shaped and color-blocked panels are affixed together, forming gradients that allude to depth. The paintings appear like folded paper objects in various states of unfurling, conducting space unto themselves. For Hersh, the motif of gradation assumes a metaphor with his life in the studio and temporality more broadly, producing distinct bodies of work in succession. As well, gradation evokes social themes: of difference, context, and still ultimately, interdependency.


Hersh is a third generation artist who has exhibited widely around the country. With 70+ solo shows and 250 group exhibitions, Hersh’s work is featured prominently in public spaces in the United States, Japan, China, Indonesia, and Africa.

View Hersh's full CV

Artist Statement

My work is acrylic paint on shaped birch panels, a hybrid of painting and sculpture. To achieve this, the paintings are supported by an exposed framework, making them three dimensional. Lately, I’ve been rendering the paintings in an illusionistic manner to further the appearance of dimensionality. story.

I work this way in order to support my belief in “no separation”. In the case of my artwork, painting and sculpture are connected and interrelated. This is similar to the Gaia principle, where organisms and their inorganic surroundings are closely integrated to form a single, self-regulating system.

To further illustrate my belief in oneness, I utilize structure as imagery in my paintings and my sculptures; while being used as a noun and a verb, structure is found in everything imaginable, seen and unseen.