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4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life Ocula Report 4th Kochi-Muziris Biennale: Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life 15 Feb 2019 : Natalie King for Ocula

'Poems are like sentences that have taken their clothes off.' Marlene Dumas' poetic and sensual refrain accompanies her figurative watercolours on view in Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life, the fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) in the southern state of Kerala, India (12 December 2018–29 March 2019).Dumas' new series...

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Ellen Altfest Ocula Conversation Ellen Altfest

The paintings of Ellen Altfest are ethereal in their detail. Fields of minutiae come together as pulsating images; small brushstrokes of oil paint accumulate over a series of months to single out seemingly innocuous subjects, such as a hand resting atop patterned fabric (The Hand, 2011) or a deep green cactus reaching upwards from beneath a bed of...

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Colomboscope 2019: Cross Currents and Dissonance Ocula Report Colomboscope 2019: Cross Currents and Dissonance 8 Feb 2019 : Nada Raza for Ocula

On the rooftop of the former Rio Hotel complex in Colombo, it was hard to ignore the high-rise buildings, still under construction, blocking all but a sliver of what used to be an open view over Slave Island, once an island on Beira Lake that housed slaves in the 19th century, and now a downtown suburb. The hotel was set alight during the...

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Hernan Bas

b. 1978, USA

With their thick applications of paint and distinct, layered brushstrokes, American artist Hernan Bas' sensual portraits and landscapes are inspired by literature, sexuality, old-world romanticism and the supernatural.

Bas grew up in Florida and was struck by the superficial obsession with idealised male bodies in Miami in the 1980s and 1990s. Addressing such vanity, Bas made early paintings with the diet drink Slim Fast. In Slim Fast Silhouette (1999–2000), a thin young man sits with a finger outstretched, his body rendered in splotchy browns. The series' inclusion in a landmark exhibition titled Making Art in Miami: Travels in Hyperreality (2000) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami launched Bas' career.

Male beauty is paramount to Bas's figurative paintings. Stirred by the romance and sentimentalism of 19th-century writers like Oscar Wilde and Joris-Karl Huysmans, Bas' work is particularly concerned with the 'dandy' figure—a young, effeminate and handsome man—whom he renders often lounging with a blank expression in luxuriant settings. In _Bloomsbury revisited (air plants) _(2017), for example, a comely man's face is reflected in a golden mirror surrounded by ornamental objects such as a painted plate, a flickering candle and spidery succulents. Similarly, in the 2018 painting How best to tolerate the stench of modernity, a freckled, adolescent-looking boy daintily holds a fan in a lush, quilted red space that dissolves into abstract shapes towards the bottom of the canvas. In four bathers by a river (2017), young men in various stages of undress wade into an inky body of water, surrounded by plants.

With their layered imageries, Bas' paintings are the results of extensive research. He is informed by men's fashion magazines and books including Boy Scout manuals and legends of the occult. Ultimately, a long-standing interest in an 'otherworldly and coded history of homosexuality' (as the artist puts it) unites his oeuvre. The series 'Insects from Abroad'—exhibited at Perrotin Tokyo in 2018—was inspired by an 1874 book describing foreign bugs—Bas was struck that the book's poetic and fantastical language was similar to that used to describe dandies in the same century. Similarly, his series 'Bright Young Things'—first exhibited at Lehmann Maupin in 2016—is based on the homoerotic undertones of the aristocrats of 1920s London.

In addition to portraiture, Bas is also known for his byzantine and eerie landscapes. Ubu Roi (the war march) (2009) depicts a fantastical scene replete with ornate castles, stormy cliffs, a rayless river and mysterious marching figures. These heady, dreamlike paintings arise from Bas' interest in the paranormal, a fascination he attributes to mysterious experiences while growing up in suburban Florida.

Bas graduated from the New World School of Arts in Miami in 1996 and later left Cooper Union after one semester. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including at Kunstverein Hannover; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Saatchi Gallery, London; and the 53rd Venice Biennale.

Bas lives and works in Detroit.

Elliat Albrecht | Ocula | 2018

Featured Artworks

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The Signalmen * by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork Hernan BasThe Signalmen *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin
Wash Up (Cave of Enlightenment) * by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork Hernan BasWash Up (Cave of Enlightenment) *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
50 x 70 cm
Perrotin
Don't Tell It on the Mountain * by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork Hernan BasDon't Tell It on the Mountain *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin
The dragon's eyes * by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork Hernan BasThe dragon's eyes *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin
Untitled by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork Hernan BasUntitled, 2018 Oil stick monotype on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm
Lehmann Maupin
Untitled by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork Hernan BasUntitled, 2018 Oil stick monotype on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm
Lehmann Maupin
ADAM (Spring cleaning) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork Hernan BasADAM (Spring cleaning), 2017 Acrylic on linen
127 x 101.6 cm
Victoria Miro
four bathers by a river by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork Hernan Basfour bathers by a river, 2017 Acrylic on linen
84 x 72 inches
Lehmann Maupin

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Summer Gallery Highlights at Perrotin, Hong Kong
Closed
21 July–8 September 2018 Group Exhibition Summer Gallery Highlights Perrotin, Hong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Hernan Bas, Insects from Abroad at Perrotin, Tokyo
Closed
18 January–11 March 2018 Hernan Bas Insects from Abroad Perrotin, Tokyo
Contemporary art exhibition, Hernan Bas, Young Do Jeong, Wild n Out at PKM Gallery, Seoul
Closed
27 October–25 November 2017 Hernan Bas, Young Do Jeong Wild n Out PKM Gallery, Seoul

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Dynamic Busan: More to see than just the sea Ocula Report Dynamic Busan: More to see than just the sea 31 May 2016 : Angela Suh for Ocula

The second largest city in South Korea, with a population of 3.6 million, Busan is a thriving metropolis situated at the south eastern end of the Korean peninsula. As a port city, Busan has a rich history of cultural exchange and is nationally acknowledged for its regional cuisine and diverse scenery. Reflecting its motto, 'Dynamic...

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Rachel Lehmann Ocula Conversation Rachel Lehmann Founding Partner of Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

Rachel Lehmann is not only one half of the gallery powerhouse that is Lehmann Maupin, but she is also an international citizen of the world. Lehmann was born in Asmara, Ethiopia, and studied at the University of Fribourg in France. She worked at the legendary Sonnabend Gallery in New York, and was the proprietor of two contemporary galleries in...

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In Related Press

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Korean, American artists reveal their pent-up desires in joint show Related Press Korean, American artists reveal their pent-up desires in joint show Yonhap News : 27 October 2017

Two artists exhibit two very different expressive styles — one is figurative and the other is abstract. Somehow, however, there exists quite a surprising similarity between American Hernan Bas and Korean Jeong Young-do when it comes to expressing suppressed desires in their works.

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Hernan Bas at Victoria Miro, London, UK Related Press Hernan Bas at Victoria Miro, London, UK Frieze : 15 September 2017

When the Detroit-based artist Hernan Bas arrived at Jesus College, Cambridge, for a period of research in 2016, he didn't know what 'fresher' meant. The term, familiar to anyone who's been to a British university, is used to describe first-year undergraduates and hints at much of the bravado of student life.

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Hernan Bas on Miami Culture and What Makes Art Gay Related Press Hernan Bas on Miami Culture and What Makes Art Gay Miami New Times : 9 May 2017

Young men's heads bobbing in an ocean heavy with secrets painted on a folding screen. A flock of spoonbills flying by Stiltsville on a triptych. A sculpture of a dead flamingo, doubled over like a macabre midcentury modern table, chained to a metal ball. This is Hernan Bas' 'Florida Living.'

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Hernan Bas on painting aristocratic, queer life in 1920s London Related Press Hernan Bas on painting aristocratic, queer life in 1920s London Hyperallergic : 17 April 2016

Aloof, gay waifs appear as persistently in Hernan Bas’s paintings as saints in a cathedral. While the young men that appear and reappear in his canvases have become somewhat of a trope, Bas’s compositions nonetheless arise from obsessive research and idiosyncratic material experimentation, as well as a seriously funny sense of...

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