SCAD Museum of Art presents "Florida Living," an exhibition of new artworks by acclaimed painter Hernan Bas. His most recent body of work pays homage to his home state of Florida and includes paintings, screens and sculptures that explore allegory, narrative painting and his personal biography.
Inspired by images of Monet’s painting studio, Bas conceptually approaches the museum’s gallery as a decadent boudoir filled with freestanding folding screens, typically used as room dividers. He responds to the manner in which the paintings were positioned, overlapping each other, and creating new compositions by transforming two-dimensional painted canvas into accidental sculptural elements.
Bas’ folding screens are painted with scenes of beautiful young men subsumed in lush, tropical environments. These sensual and aloof male subjects are at odds with their surroundings and simultaneously integral to them. This tension is furthered through the use of repetitive and abundant forms and formal elements. The artist employs camp aesthetics — such as bright colors and decorative subjects — as a critical device to explore the manner in which meaning is codified. This artistic approach is slyly analogous to the ways in which homoerotic content was historically engaged as subtext in literature, particularly in the work of Oscar Wilde and Joris-Karl Huysmans. It is Huyseman’s dandy protagonist in "Against Nature" that led Bas to imagine a similar character occupying his fantastical room, except one that resides in Florida, surrounded by local vernacular symbols of luxury and abundance, typically a bit campy, such as underwater scenes that are common as murals in seafood restaurants.
In addition, large pink birds are central motifs in "Florida Living." They appear as a flock of spoonbills in pithily titled works such as "The Dawn of Modernity" and flamingos in "Pink Plastic Lures" and "Pink Prose." The artist’s introduction of new sculptural elements in the form of constructed flamingos, extends his interest in creating an absurd, tragicomic and heightened environment
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, Hernan Bas chronicles the work of this young figurative painter, whose moody portraits reflect the youth of contemporary culture. Bas is known for his overgrown landscapes and intimate figurative portraits of beautiful boyish and hip young men. With a style that is energetic and gestural, his work nods to abstract expressionism yet remains contemporary in feel. His pieces are romantic and often uncompromisingly sexual, with dark narratives or open landscapes. A soft palette is met with the gorgeous contrast of unpredicted dark hues and vibrant colors, while his loose brushwork creates intricate textures. This lavish monograph is the most complete book devoted to Bas's career thus far, focusing on his paintings, film stills, and illustrations. With more than 200 color plates and texts by Christian Rattemeyer, Jonathan Griffin, and Nancy Spector, this gorgeous volume presents the intricate and sensuously delightful work of this up-and-coming artist, whose work personifies epic romance by embracing both the decadence and nastiness of pleasure.