Hernan Bas. The first and the last. Galerie Perrotin

Paris and Miami,

Due to his origin (he was born in 1978 in Miami) and the context where he has developed most of his production (he lives and works between that city and Detroit), it might seem strange that European art and literature from the late 19th century, Above all, the symbolism and aesthetics of the nabis have been the fundamental references of Hernan Bas, but the iconography of the androgynous male dandy and the attitudes of the portraits of flâneurs he has been taking them to his terrain: that of young people that he represents alone or in small groups, wrapped in apparent dreamlike visions and in compositions that we could identify as intimate genre scenes or as dense, exuberant landscapes, in which he manages a soft eroticism or a sensuality. ambiguous He usually shows us these figures in their transition between adolescence and adulthood, embodying a fragile intermediate state, and reinterprets classic models in them from a homoerotic perspective; They produce a general sensation of melancholy, but in many of his pieces he leaves room for humor or irony.

Until next June, the Galerie Perrotin on Rue de Turenne in Paris is hosting its sixth solo exhibition by this American author: under the title “The First and the Last”, it collects paintings and drawings that take us to scenarios where the extraordinary and the mundane Sometimes, they start from moments that we may consider absurd and unedifying (such as the recent case of a tourist caught engraving his name in the Colosseum in Rome) to try to glimpse the reasons for it and even a form of beauty in them; In the example of that tourist, Bass recognizes that, although his act has little to admire, it reminded him of that human impulse to leave a mark in certain places, literally or not so much, seeking a path to immortality on the scale at which that we can aspire to it. Another form of nonsense, capable of generating black humor and also related to immortality, is found in sports competitions, hence the name of this exhibition, which is no stranger to the next Olympic Games to be held in the French capital: Bas manifesta plastically his sympathies towards magnificent losers.

His creative process is rather unusual: his works have titles before they begin to see the light; Firstly, in photographic montages or drawings, which he later usually takes to canvas, through acrylic paint. This Paris exhibition is the first in which Bas exhibits precisely drawings as autonomous and independent works; Those that we will see here are the result of the application of the transfer technique that Paul Gauguin used, a practice that involves a lot of manual delicacy and which consists of covering sheets of paper with ink, turning them over and drawing on the back to leave the mark of the strokes on the obverse. A single gesture that is too forceful can ruin everything; He uses up to ten layers of gray through screen printing and although, as we said, he generally uses acrylic, he has also experimented with oil reflections on silver strips or fragments of uniforms.

Hernan Bas.  The first and the last.  Galerie Perrotin

The most recent of the American series that have landed in Paris is populated by a large group of eclectic characters: the winner of one of those dance contests during the Great Depression in which the winner was whoever did not fall exhausted after days without stopping (Dance, dance, damned); a melancholy absinthe drinker in an old café; a young man pruning branches in a forest that, due to its bucolic air, refers to the esotericism of The Blair Witch Project…Some of his pieces here, like the work on paper Finding the First Flock of Flamingos to Return to Florida in a Centuryare so recent that they are inspired by the last return of pink flamingos to the Florida area (they became extinct, due to hunting, before being reintroduced from Cuba, where the artist's family is from).

Hernan Bas.  The first and the last.  Galerie Perrotin

In its conjunction of the idea of ​​a vain competition with the desire – surely no less vain – to leave a trace in history, Bas also recreates the ghostly footprints on the roof of the pub. The Eagle of Cambridge, created by airmen during World War II using wax candles, lighters and lipstick. In another of his drawings, a student sitting at a desk engraves words in wood in front of mathematical equations on a blackboard, as if they were poetic riddles: “The ending does not matter”, “His own name”, “I want pizza”… And in In yet another drawing, a figure has carved letters on the leaves of a succulent plant, curiously called tourist tree.

This exhibition reveals a certain sense of urgency of the end of the world seasoned with humor: in The last day the tower stood, the Leaning Tower of Pisa seems to be saved from collapse thanks to the hand of a tourist, who places it as is usually done in photos. Another man indulges in one last extravagant meal before the imminent arrival of an asteroid; and a presence will be familiar to us: that of Picasso's Guernica in the background of the image The last guard of the last museum on Earthhinting at an upcoming catastrophe from ambiguity and without describing it.

Hernan Bas.  The first and the last.  Galerie Perrotin
Hernan Bas.  The first and the last.  Galerie Perrotin

This Parisian exhibition coincides, briefly in time, with “The Conceptualists”, another individual that this author offers at the Bass Museum in Miami. It consists of thirty paintings, several unpublished, as usual intricately detailed and based on the gathering of an astonishing number of cultured and popular references, from Oscar Wilde and Joris-Karl Huysman to poetry, religion, mythology or the media Communication. In each of them, this time you can see individuals alone, obsessed with some hobby with such emphasis that it seems that only it gave meaning to their lives: they carve objects, make memorials on the roads, chew gum or gild the leaves of dying plants. ; These works therefore place extravagant, but perhaps liberating, behaviors under the generous categorization of “conceptual art.”

Hernan Bas.  The Conceptualists.  Bass Museum of Art
Hernan Bas.  The Conceptualists.  Bass Museum of Art

Hernan Bas. “The Conceptualists”


2100 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

From December 4, 2023 to May 5, 2024

Hernan Bas. “The first and the last”


76 Rue de Turenne


From April 13 to June 1, 2024

Similar Posts