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b. 1978, United States

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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The Suspect by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork painting
Hernan Bas The Suspect, 2021 Six panel folding screen, acrylic on linen mounted in a birch-wood frame with fabric backing
182.9 x 274.3 cm
Lehmann Maupin Request Price & Availability
It comes out every 17 years by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork works on paper
Hernan Bas It comes out every 17 years, 2017 Transfer drawing in black ink with collage
68 x 53 cm
Perrotin Request Price & Availability
The Signalmen * by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork print
Hernan Bas The Signalmen *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
two bathers (paper mask) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork painting
Hernan Bas two bathers (paper mask), 2017 Acrylic on linen
76.2 x 55.9 cm
PKM Gallery Request Price & Availability
two bathers by a river by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork painting
Hernan Bas two bathers by a river, 2017 Acrylic on linen
213.4 x 182.9 cm
PKM Gallery Request Price & Availability
Nightclimber #4 (Cambridge Living) by Hernan Bas contemporary artwork works on paper
Hernan Bas Nightclimber #4 (Cambridge Living), 2017 Transfer drawing in brown and black ink on paper
61 x 22.9 cm
Victoria Miro Request Price & Availability
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Hernan Bas
current & recent
exhibitions

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Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

Lehmann Maupin contemporary art gallery in 501 West 24th Street, New York, United States
Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong, Beijing, London, New York, Seoul +1
Perrotin contemporary art gallery in Paris Marais, France
Perrotin Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai +1
Victoria Miro contemporary art gallery in Wharf Road, London, United Kingdom
Victoria Miro London, Venice
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Hernan Bas in
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