Hernan Bas (b. 1978, Miami, FL, lives and works in Detroit, MI and Miami, FL) creates paintings, works on paper, videos, and installations that weave together adolescent adventures with classical poetry, religious stories, mythology, the paranormal, and literature. Influenced by the Romantic era of the 18th century that glorified the sublime beauty of nature and the Decadent movement of the 19th century that evoked romantic nihilism, skepticism, excess, and artificiality, Bas’ early work often portrayed nearly hidden adolescent male figures, deep in contemplation amidst vast otherworldly landscapes. As the figure and the interiors they occupied became more and more prominent, so did the social and cultural context within which they were living. Spanning a wide range of time periods and themes, Bas’ works investigate inquisition, desire, and obsessions that invite the viewer to recognize their own curiosities and oddities.
While the young male figure remains prominent throughout Bas’ oeuvre, in his more recent work individual paintings become an in-depth investigation into a singular critical subject, addressing topics such as LGBTQIA+ activism and desire, politics, news, conspiracy theories, and the occult. Providing a unique perspective on American subculture and a contemporary version of History Painting, they allow us to consider the relevance of seemingly inconsequential moments in the past and present and offer space for critical reflection. For his November 2019 exhibition with Lehmann Maupin, TIME LIFE, Bas used the Time-Life Book series Mysteries of the Unknown as his inspiration. Published between 1987 and 1991, each book focused on a different paranormal topic, such as ghosts, UFOs, psychic powers, and dreams. Navigating the liminal space between reality and fiction, the grotesque and the beautiful, the odd and the mundane, Bas highlights cult phenomena from the past that offer insight into the political and social concerns of today.
Bas received a degree from the New World School of the Arts, Miami, FL, in 1996. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized by Centro De Arte Contemporáneo Málaga, Málaga, Spain (2018); Colby College Art Museum, Waterville, ME (2018); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2017); Bass Museum of Art, Miami, FL (2013); and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL (2007). Bas has participated in a number of important group exhibitions, including Where is the Madness You Promised Me, Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art, Peekskill (2019); Generation Loss, Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf (2017); On the Horizon: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, Perez Art Museum, Miami (2017); Future Seasons Past, Lehmann Maupin, New York, NY (2015); The Collectors, curated by Elmgreen & Dragset for the Nordic and Danish Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); Triumph of Painting: Part III, Saatchi Gallery, London (2005); Ideal Worlds – New Romanticism in Contemporary Art, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2005); and the Whitney Biennial (2004).
His work is in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, NY; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.