Lehmann Maupin is pleased to present the first exhibition in Hong Kong of work by Hernan Bas. This show, entitled Case Studies, features new paintings by Bas, who is primarily known for his expressionistic and highly detailed figurative paintings, but also for his works in sculpture, film, photography and installation. The artist will be present for an opening reception on Tuesday, May 13 from 6 to 8PM.
Bas’s vibrant paintings depict lithe, androgynous males in the transitional period between youth and adulthood. Timid, awkward and insecure, these adolescent men are portrayed amidst dense, lush tropical landscapes. Several of the canvases are collaged with starfish and seashells, giving further texture and depth to the already expressionistic surface.
Bas’s references are far-reaching. He often weaves together stories of adolescent adventures and the paranormal with poetry, religious stories, kitsch attractions, mythology and literature. His varied influences also include classic horror films, comics, television, art history, the occult and fairy tales.
For the protagonist of each of the Case Studies paintings, Bas has created an individual narrative and has visualized the subject’s journey of personal discovery. Laced with sometimes dark, obsessive and compulsive traits, as well as traumatic or unusual childhood experiences, the narratives read as observations from a psychoanalyst’s notes. There is Baxter who is so fixated with mermaids and sea creatures that he has gills tattooed on the side of his neck; Kyle attempts to treat injured animals, despite not having a veterinary degree, to the point of trying to revive a dying beehive.
While elements of the characters’ stories hint at Bas’s own personal experiences, they are not self-portraits. With the inclusion of the narratives, Bas references the 1950s and 60s when homosexuality was diagnosed as a mental illness (similarly to hysteria being a common diagnosis for women in the 19th century), attempting to show the absurdity in these conclusions.