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b. 1978, USA

Hernan Bas Biography

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.

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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

Hernan Bas Featured Artworks

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It comes out every 17 years by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork
Hernan BasIt comes out every 17 years, 2017Transfer drawing in black ink with collage
68 x 53 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
Dawn (Venice, Carnival) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork
Hernan BasDawn (Venice, Carnival), 2020Acrylic, pencil and pigment on Arches oil paper
152.4 x 130.8 cm
Sold
Victoria Miro
Napoleon and a Jockey on the Lido by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork
Hernan BasNapoleon and a Jockey on the Lido, 2020Acrylic, coloured pencil, gouache and collage on Arches paper
76.8 x 57.6 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
The Great and Powerful OZ's AV Guy (Or, Behind the Other Curtain) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork
Hernan BasThe Great and Powerful OZ's AV Guy (Or, Behind the Other Curtain), 2019Acrylic and charcoal on linen
213.3 x 182.8 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
two bathers (paper mask) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork
Hernan Bastwo bathers (paper mask), 2017Acrylic on linen
76.2 x 55.9 cm
PKM Gallery Enquire
two bathers by a river by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork
Hernan Bastwo bathers by a river, 2017Acrylic on linen
213.4 x 182.9 cm
PKM Gallery Enquire
Nightclimber #4 (Cambridge Living) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork
Hernan BasNightclimber #4 (Cambridge Living), 2017Transfer drawing in brown and black ink on paper
61 x 22.9 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
The impending flame (or, the great barn fire of '83) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork
Hernan BasThe impending flame (or, the great barn fire of '83), 2011Acrylic, airbrush, and block print on linen
243.8 x 274.3 x 5.1 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery

Hernan Bas Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Kaleidoscopes: Contemporary Portraiture at Perrotin, Hong Kong
Closed
20 June–8 August 2020 Group Exhibition Kaleidoscopes: Contemporary Portraiture Perrotin, Hong KongHong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Hernan Bas, Venetian Blind at Victoria Miro, Venice
Closed
8 February–14 March 2020 Hernan Bas Venetian Blind Victoria Miro, VeniceVenice
Contemporary art exhibition, Hernan Bas, TIME LIFE at Lehmann Maupin, New York
Closed
7 November 2019–4 January 2020 Hernan Bas TIME LIFE Lehmann Maupin, 501 West 24th St, New York501 West 24th Street, New York

Hernan Bas Represented By

Lehmann Maupin contemporary art gallery in 536 West 22nd Street, New York, USA Lehmann Maupin New York, Hong Kong, London, Seoul
Perrotin contemporary art gallery in Paris, France Perrotin Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo
PKM Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea PKM Gallery Seoul
Victoria Miro contemporary art gallery in Wharf Road, London, United Kingdom Victoria Miro London, Venice

Hernan Bas In Ocula Magazine

Dynamic Busan: More to see than just the sea Ocula Report Dynamic Busan: More to see than just the sea By Angela Suh, Busan

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 By Anna Dickie, 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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Hernan Bas 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 27 October 2017, Yonhap News

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 15 September 2017, Frieze

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 9 May 2017, Miami New Times

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 17 April 2016, Hyperallergic

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 humor....

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