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Hernan Bas

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Hernan Bas Modern Painters

June 1 2016

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Hernan Bas on Painting Aristocratic, Queer Life in 1920s London Hyperallergic

April 13 2016

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The Lookout: Hernan Bas at Lehmann Maupin Art in America

March 30 2016

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Hernan Bas: Illustrated Answers with Neo-Romantic Painter NeueJournal

March 29 2016

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Bohemia, By Way of the Aristocrats New York Times

March 10 2016

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12 Things to Do in New York’s Art World Before March 11 New York Observer

March 7 2016

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FIAC 2015 Opens with Strong Sales ARTINFO

October 22 2015

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Hong Kong Tatler

May 7, 2014

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Elephant Magazine

Spring 2014

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Art21

July 10, 2012

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The Korea Herald

June 19, 2012

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Huffington Post

April 11, 2012

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Bomb

April 10, 2012

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Art Observed

April 4, 2012

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Mediabistro

March 22, 2012

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Artlog

March 16, 2012

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Opening Ceremony

March 16, 2012

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Artinfo

March 13, 2012

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Interview

February 29, 2012

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WWD

February 29, 2012

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Flash Art

September 30, 2009

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Flash Art

June 30, 2009

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NBC Miami

May 21, 2009

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Miami New Times

May 21, 2009

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BlackBook

May 20, 2009

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Whitewall

May 6, 2009

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The Miami Herald

May 3, 2009

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Manhattan

April 30, 2009

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Time Out New York

April 23, 2009

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Artnet TV

April 9, 2009

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Art Review

March 31, 2009

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Vogue

February 28, 2009

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WWD.com

February 27, 2009

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Artnet

February 1, 2009

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The Advocate

January 31, 2009

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Artdaily.org

January 12, 2009

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Wound

March 31, 2008

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Elle Decor

March 31, 2008

Interview


Interview
March 2012

Hernan Bas Sees Evil
By Brienne Walsh

In an age of Twilight and True Blood, the devil is something we know, and very often, want to sleep with. In his solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin, "Occult Contemporary"—a name that riffs off the softcore musical genre "Adult Contemporary"—artist Hernan Bas attempts to rescue the devil from the candy-coated world of Hollywood blockbusters, and imbue him with his uncanny ability to terrify ordinary humans. Using old folklore as a source for his visual representations, Bas creates monumental psychedelic dreamscapes—the smallest canvases are 6' x 7'—that look like illustrations for a 16th century German fairy tale set in a post-apocalyptic world. In such settings, the devil is allowed to be supernatural rather than quotidian, freed from the muck of a banal human existence. "The landscape was as magical as I wanted it to be," Bas explained. "There were no rules. What emerged was accidental."

Bas first became interested in the occult in his childhood in upstate Florida. In the woods surrounding their house, he spent a lot of time with his older sister and brother, whom he describes as "junior occultists," playing ghosts and spirits. "It was a very X-Files type of upbringing," he noted. Later in life, this interest focused on the devil, the Christian manifestation of the supernatural, whom is an opposing or malevolent entity to God, but not necessarily to man. To derive inspiration, Bas read Baudelaire, who conceived of the anti-Christ as a beautiful dandy; looked at the woodcuts by Gustave Doré for Milton's "Paradise Lost", in which the devil appears as a winged hero; and listened to "The Devils Trill" by Giuseppe Tartini, a score "composed" by the devil to forever torture a human composer, who could never replicate it, not even on his death bed. "The devil is always the protagonist in these stories," Bas explained. "He's not necessarily a bad guy. He's just trying to do his job as a professional to influence human destiny."

All of these sources come together in "Occult Contemporary," where the devil is depicted not as some monster from the depths of hell, but rather as a mirror of man himself. In Bridge (2012), the devil is a shadow wearing a top hat, a film noir cut figure that clearly spooks the man at the forefront of the painting, who half turns as if he senses the presence of the underworld. In Devil's Trill (2012), directly inspired by the Tartini score, two twins occupy a landscape of fallen trees—in the foreground, one is hunched over in despair, in the background, the other, the devil, plays a violin with reckless abandon. In One Of Us (2012), a loosely rendered, Cezanne-esque landscape contains a lone contemplative figure being comforted by a gray shadow, while a group of identical gray shadows observe from a distance. In the composition, it is unclear who is the devil, and who is man. In groups, they are indistinguishable. "He's a sympathetic character," Bas said of his effete, slender renderings of evil.

In the exhibition, Bas seems to make the argument that even in the rational age, where we no longer need the occult to explain natural phenomena—at least not usually—there's still a capacity for the unknown. In the shadows of our dreams lurks a figure that is similar to us, but more powerful, whose job it is to steal our souls, and in doing so, opening up worlds beyond our wildest fantasies.