Born in 1978 in Miami, Florida, Hernan Bas creates works born of literary intrigue and tinged with nihilistic romanticism and old world imagery. Influenced by the Aesthetic and Decadent writers of the 19th century, in particular Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire and Joris-Karl Huysman, Bas’s works weave together stories of adolescent adventures and the paranormal with classical poetry, religious stories, mythology and literature. His varied influences also include classic horror films, comics, television, art history, the occult and fairy tales. His paintings are a patchwork of figuration and abstraction; they feature classical subjects like interiors, landscapes and portraits. He experiments with various techniques and materials such as airbrush, wood block, acrylic, gold leaf and house paint. Before embarking on a new series, Bas does general, rather than in-depth, research into a subject. Furthermore, Bas feels that he doesn’t depict actual individuals or events in history but invents scenes inspired by various historical periods. Bas has typically depicted his figures as young men in a period of life change—specifically the transitional moment between boyhood and manhood. His subjects often appear unsettled, timid and insecure. While the male figure features prominently in Bas’ paintings, he does not view these as self-portraits. Bas divides his time between Detroit and Miami, cities that lie outside of major established art centers, yet have strong emerging art communities. The influence of these cities on Bas’ work can be seen in atmospheric and thematic cues.
Solo exhibitions of Bas’ 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), which subsequently traveled to the Brooklyn Museum of Art (2008). Bas has participated in a number of important group exhibitions, including 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, and Ideal Worlds – New Romanticism in Contemporary Art, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (both 2005); and the 2004 Whitney Biennale. In 2014, Rizzoli published a monograph on the artist, the most comprehensive book of his work to date. His work is part of the permanent collections of New York’s Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art; as well as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.