“The loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist”
— Charles Pierre Baudelaire
Lehmann Maupin Gallery is pleased to present Hernan Bas, Occult Contemporary, on view 15 March – 21 April 2012, at 540 West 26th Street.
Drawing from his interest in the supernatural, Hernan Bas’s Occult Contemporary responds to the recent proliferation of the occult in mass media with a presentation of new paintings depicting a representation of the devil based on traditional texts and folklore. Playing on the term “Adult Contemporary,” used to describe a light genre of popular music, the title of Bas’s show plays on this act of genre-fication which has made the presence of the occult and supernatural in books, movies, and t.v. accessible to children and young adults, extinguishing any aura of danger or taboo that the occult once held, and consequently, resulting in varying representations and visual depictions of the devil that stray from those detailed in real folklore. For this exhibition, Hernan Bas deals with the true origins of the occult and folklore, translating tales about the devil and trickery into a series of new paintings. Bas’s “Tartini’s Dream” is based on the famed composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartin’s most famed composition, “The Devils Trill,” which began with a dream. As Tartini described it, in his slumber the devil appeared to the violinist and asked to be taught the violin. After some tutoring, Tartini handed the devil the instrument and to his surprise the devil began at a lightning pace a composition that left Tartini breathless. Upon waking, Tartini feverishly attempted to transcribe the song, but despite his effort and universal praise for the piece, Tartini would never feel his version even paled in comparison to the devil’s version. In the painting, we see Tartini amongst a dreamlike forest, crawling with shadowed spirits, his head bowed in shame as the Devil plays his trill.
Inspired by Baudelaire’s musings on the devil, Bas draws connections between the dandies pictured in his paintings and the vice of boredom that Baudelaire describes in “The Generous Gambler.” Believing that the devil had a great deal to do with the direction of human destinies, Baudelaire wished that the devil would free him from the vice of boredom. In this new series of paintings, Bas depicts the devil as a professional man, always self-serving but simply trying to do his job as he enters into pacts with the young men that inhabit Bas’s luscious landscapes.
About the artist
Detroit-based artist, Hernan Bas was born in Miami, Florida in 1978. Tinged with nihilist romanticism and born of literary intrigue and a passion for historical painting, Bas’s sensuously delightful paintings personify epic romance, embracing both the decadence and nastiness of pleasure. In February 2012, Bas will open his first European museum solo show at Kunstverein Hannover, Germany; and in March 2012 will unveil a project with Louis Vuitton at the company’s Aventura space in Miami, FL. His works have been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions, among them, the 2007 retrospective at the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL, which presented a decade of the artist’s work and traveled to the Brooklyn Museum of Art in February 2008; and Bas’s inclusion in the Nordic Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, curated by Elmgreen & Dragset. Recent group exhibitions include Contemporary Magic: A Tarot Deck Art Project at the Andy Warhol Museum, and The Cry at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon (MUSAC). Hernan Bas lives and works in Detroit, Michigan.