‘From the Belly of the Whale: Biblical Imagery’ – Albert Herbert

26 May 1989 — 8 July 1989

During the 60’s and 70’s Herbert was involved with the avant garde but became uneasy about being, as he perceived it deliberately obscure. To escape from the confines of ‘art’ or impersonal self- expression he chose as subject matter universally recognised Biblical stories. He states that: “I am trying to renew or make meaningful again these ancient stories both for myself and anyone who looks at them”.

It is interesting to speculate on the personal meaning these stories have for him. The image of Jonah and the Whale, for example, seems to be an important symbol. Could it be a comment on the way Herbert was on the run from his own personal vision during his years as a modernist?

The style looks naïve but beware this deceptive first impression. There is nothing naïve about his approach to his subjects. His Stations of the Cross were sufficiently deeply felt, to be banned from the church that had commissioned them.

The troubled inner-spirit of the artist refuses to allow easy consolations. Robert MacDonald, the art critic of Time Out, wrote of Albert Herbert, “he is one of Britain’s most notable undiscovered artists. His paintings and etchings of the last decade will soon be recognised for what they are – marks of an unusual and uniquely individual imagination”.