INTROSPECTION AND QUEER EROTICISM. HERNAN BAS AT THE BASS
The Bass presents Hernan Bas: The Conceptualists, an exhibition on-view beginning December 4, 2023 that explores conceptual art as a permissive realm for creative behavior and an inviting space for queerness.
Hernan Bas: The Conceptualists will feature 35 paintings, many never previously exhibited at museums, including the artist’s largest canvas to date.
In his paintings, drawings and installations, Miami-based artist Hernan Bas (b. 1978) creates intricately detailed scenes that invite viewers to decipher an astounding number of visual references. His works often involve a single male or group of male figures caught in moments of stasis, in apparent introspection or still repose. All other action surrounding the character is seemingly suspended for the artist’s and viewers’ thoughtful study.
Mining literary sources, like the aesthetic decadence and queer eroticism of such nineteenth-century writers as Oscar Wilde and Joris-Karl Huysman, Bas incorporates visual cues into a range of narratives. From poetry, religion, mythology and literature to the histories of gay struggle, youth culture, news media and television, Bas’s detailed vignettes symbolically reference the peculiarities of cultural identities.
While earlier works show male characters linked to specific stories, each painting in The Conceptualists depicts a single protagonist deeply engaged in an obsessive, idiosyncratic pastime. Bas’ subjects freely exercise the unique activities that give sustenance and meaning to their lives: carving objects that hold ice, fabricating roadside memorials for hitchhikers, chewing gum every waking hour of the day, or gilding the leaves of dying house plants, among other personal idylls.
Bas’ detailed depictions substantiate quirky behaviors under the generous categorization of “conceptual art.” These tales are queer, where queerness refers not necessarily to sexual orientation but to a pillar of conceptual art—an incomprehensible permissiveness and liberating space for a society grounded in conformity.