[Skip to Content]
20

Divergent Abstraction

A Painting Exhibition by Tarrence Corbin & Frank Herrmann

Divergent Abstraction

A Painting Exhibition by Tarrence Corbin & Frank Herrmann

The Cincinnati Arts Association and the Weston Art Gallery in the Aronoff Center for the Arts present Divergent Abstraction, a painting exhibition exploring contrasting approaches to abstraction by University of Cincinnati professors of painting Tarrence Corbin and Frank Herrmann.

Tarrence Corbin’s monumental mural-size canvases unleash bold and exuberant color across twisting and overlapping geometric and volumetric forms which undulate rhythmically across expansive painted surfaces. His precise rendering effectively creates the illusion of three-dimensional forms thrusting their energy beyond the limits of the two-dimensional restraints of the canvas. Spanning up to 25’ in width and 80” in height, these multi-paneled paintings immerse the viewer in a frenetic field charged with energy, color, and movement. Inspired by such contemporary musical sources as bebop jazz, rhythm and blues, and funk, he also draws influence from the 15th-century Italian painter and master of perspective, Paolo Uccello. Combining his brilliant use of color and technical mastery of illusion, Corbin seeks to humanize geometry or make, in his words, “geometry with an attitude.” He has received much acclaim for his exceptional large-scale canvases and murals. Community-based projects have included mural projects with Cincinnati Public School students.

Trained in traditional realistic methods, Corbin soon found that the abstractions of geometric forms suited him better and allowed him to express the inspirations he found in art history and music, particularly jazz. What he calls his “visual musicality” flows from whatever is playing on the stereo in his studio—be it John Cage, John Coltrane, James Brown, or Richard Wagner—and this seeps into the titles he gives his paintings: Boogaloo Beat, Ebony Sonata, Tristan and Isolde. Corbin says of his approach to his work, “I never deny who I am as an African American, but we all have different voices. I absorb as much of all cultures and worlds as I can.”

Whereas Corbin’s bold geometry confronts the viewer head-on, the physical topography of Frank Herrmann’s abstract paintings is more subtle in a seductively subversive way. Combining areas of thin washes with thickly applied impasto surfaces that occasionally include an imbedded everyday object, Herrmann’s paintings suggest a primordial existence slowly evolving towards a recurrent cycle of growth, decay, and regeneration. Through the use of line, shape, form, markings, pattern, space, and color, the physicality of these paintings reflects the artist’s aggressive persistence and struggle in pushing them towards a final resolution, one that requires time and contemplation and yields new discoveries upon each viewing. Herrmann employs a variety of processes to filter information gleaned from our ever complex society and arrives at a new order.

Both artists have demonstrated a strong commitment to abstract painting in careers that span more than 30 years and have exhibited their work extensively in regional, national, and international exhibitions. Herrmann has been a professor of painting in the School of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati since 1973. Corbin is currently serving as chairperson of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Cincinnati where he has been a professor of painting since 1990.

Showings