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Hernan Bas: Illustrated Answers with Neo-Romantic Painter

If Oscar Wilde were a 21st century visual artist we have a feeling that his work would look somewhat like Hernan Bas’ paintings. It’s no surprise, then, that Bas cites Wilde and Joris-Karl Huysmans as inspirations for his oeuvre, which consists of intricate and colorful romantic paintings that constantly explore nostalgia, the opulent social lives of the bourgeoisie, and, perhaps most evidently, queerness. The Detroit-based artist has gained worldwide recognition, with exhibitions in the Brooklyn Museum, the Saatchi Gallery in London, the Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris, and more recently his fourth solo show, ‘Bright Young Things,’ at the Lehmann Maupin gallery in New York City, on view until April 23, 2016. In this exclusive interview, the splashy neo-romantic painter shares illustrated answers with us.


NeueJournal: What was your favorite thing to do as a child?


Hernan Bas: I played a great deal outside as a very young child. We lived in the middle of nowhere in upstate Florida where wandering the woods was a big thrill.



NJ: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?


HB: If I could, I would like to write about art. Aside from that, and as cliche as it may sound, I am really into interior design.



NJ: What does your most idealized self look like?


HB: If we are talking strictly looks, I’d say I wish I had the same body I had when I was 20. Aside from that, and if we’re going a bit deeper, I wish I was a little less flaky–I can forget to reply to an email for days on end!



NJ: If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?


HB: Crispy bok choy.



NJ: What’s your biggest vice?


HB: Television, it plays in the background of my studio, and I can’t fall asleep without it on. Bud Light is on the list too.



NJ: What is a talent you possess that a lot of people don’t know about?


HB: I have a green thumb. I love plants, but really I put all my eggs in that painting basket.



NJ: What is the first thing you see when you wake up?


HB: The sun peeking through a curtain, or Jose Diaz Balart on MSNBC if I left the TV on.



NJ: What is your most prized possession?


HB: I collect a lot of different things so it’s hard to pick, but one object I coveted for a while before finally getting my hands on is my Elise Wright photograph. Titled “Fairy Sun Bath” from a series known as the Cottingley Fairies, Elsie and her cousin caused a sensation in the 1920’s when they claimed to have photographed real life fairies in their garden. They later admitted that four of the five images they created where faked, except the fifth photograph, which I own now.