Hernan Bas: Works from the Rubell Family Collection
A graduate of New World School of the Ar ts, Hernan Bas (b. Miami, 1978) has gone on to become one of Miami’s most celebrated artists. His work engages in the production of romantic, melancholic, and old world imagery, and makes reference to Oscar Wilde, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and other writers of the Aesthetic and Decadent period in nineteenth-century literature. This exhibition includes thirty-eight works collected by the Rubell family over the course of a decade and represents each series that Bas has completed to date, such as Slim Fast, Hernan’s Merit and the Nouveau Sissies, It’s Super Natural, and A Little Moby Dick in All of Us. Designed like the chapters of a book, the exhibition presents the development of this young artist in a manner that allows for symbolic, literal, and poetic readings.
Bound in the works’ romantic story telling, art historical references, and grand gestures is a strong sense of humanity. Of humanism. Of real stories told of real boys with deeply held feelings. Bas expresses his experience, his history, his desires, his world, and his place in that world right now—both as an artist and as an individual.
January 31, 2009
Thirty-eight works of art in various media from one of Miami’s most celebrated young artists, Hernan Bas, will be featured in a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Hernan Bas: Works from the Rubell Family Collection draws from art collected over the past ten years by the Rubell family. This exhibition will be on view from February 27 to May 24, 2009 at the Brooklyn Museum.
Hernan Bas has a great fascination with historical painting, popular fiction, Goth culture, and nineteenth-century dandyism. Using these influences, his paintings often depict androgynous boys on the edge of adulthood in narratives drawn from Oscar Wilde, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and other writers of the Aesthetic and Decadent period. Inspired by these authors, Bas creates his own romantic mythologies from a perspective that explores masculinity and gay culture.
Designed like the chapters of a book, this exhibition presents the development of Bas in a manner that can be read symbolically and literally. One of his earliest series, which was inspired by the Hardy Boys mystery stories, depicts a young adventurous duo exploring atmospheric scenes—dark caves, woods, and mysterious interiors. The eerie settings and unresolved narratives connect Bas’s two recurring characters in an intimate and sexually charged relationship. His later work involves more colorful and richly painted surfaces that place contemporary-looking men in historical environments. The Swan Prince (2004) presents the Bavarian king Ludwig II as a bare-chested young man, floating in a half shell pulled by three swans. Bas’s more recent artwork includes the large-scale, dense mixed-media work, The Great Barrier Wreath (2006), a three-panel painting of men, swans, and flamingos in a style reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch; and a mixed-media installation, Ocean’s Symphony (2007), that reimagines the hoax of the Fiji mermaid with a mermaid replica lying in a casket surrounded by nautical objects and video projections.
Hernan Bas was born in Miami in 1978 of Cuban expatriate parents; he is a graduate of The New World School of the Arts in Miami. His work has been seen in numerous solo and group shows and is in private and public collections throughout the Unites States, among them the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. He currently lives and works in Miami.
Hernan Bas: Works from the Rubell Family Collection was organized by Mark Coetzee, former Director of the Rubell Family Collection; the Brooklyn Museum presentation is coordinated by Charles Desmarais, Deputy Director for Art. The exhibition is made possible by the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Exhibition Fund.