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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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Fetching stars (low tide, Etretat) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork painting
Hernan BasFetching stars (low tide, Etretat), 2021Acrylic on linen
213.4 x 182.9 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
The Suspect by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork painting
Hernan BasThe Suspect, 2021Six panel folding screen, acrylic on linen mounted in a birch-wood frame with fabric backing
182.9 x 274.3 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
It comes out every 17 years by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork works on paper
Hernan BasIt comes out every 17 years, 2017Transfer drawing in black ink with collage
68 x 53 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
Private Bouquet (7) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork works on paper
Hernan BasPrivate Bouquet (7), 2015Acrylic, silkscreen, airbrush, coloured pencil chalk and oil pastels on paper
86 x 67 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
The Great and Powerful OZ's AV Guy (Or, Behind the Other Curtain) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork painting
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 painting
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 painting
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 works on paper
Hernan BasNightclimber #4 (Cambridge Living), 2017Transfer drawing in brown and black ink on paper
61 x 22.9 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire

Hernan Bas Recent Exhibitions

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Hernan Bas Represented By

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

Hernan Bas In Ocula Magazine

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Hernan Bas In Related Press

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