November 28, 2021 - January 15, 2022
Fredric Snitzer Gallery is pleased to announce Nightlite, a solo exhibition by Hernan Bas commemorating the 20th anniversary of representation by the gallery. This exhibition, Bas’s ninth with the gallery, features a small selection of large-scale paintings depicting scarcely illuminated scenarios unfolding under the cover of night.
Natural and artificial sources of light cast shadows in moody compositions within these works and invite the viewer to points both familiar and obscure. Famed Paris locations such as the Pont des Arts bridge and the tomb of Oscar Wilde at the Père Lachaise Cemetery have been paired with unspecified mysterious destinations. One such anonymous setting is seen in Torch Fishing for Flounder, which finds a pair of young men in a canoe doing just that. Torch fishing is a centuries-old method for spearing prey at night, and It is an image the artist has described as “so hopelessly (Southern) gothic in its romance; the reeds, the flames, the stillness of dark streams... I couldn't help but attempt to emulate the unlikely drama of dudes fishing at night.”
Heartbreakers, a nearly life-size work measuring 7x9 feet finds us spying on a moment of vandalism set in a scene noted for being precisely the site of a mass scale act of the same nature. The two young men have taken it upon themselves to remove locks placed on the famed Pont des Arts bridge over the Seine. For years this bridge has become “victim” to what are now generally referred to around the world as love bridges, sites where tourists profess their love by writing on locks and attaching them to the railings. The sheer weight of this outpouring of amour has made these bridges susceptible to collapse, while the comic irony seems of little concern to those taking part in the ritual. “Skater Boys,” a trope new to Bas, or typical “street waifs” of Paris, are envisioned here by the artist as members of an imaginary club, “The Heartbreakers,” in the midst of their rite of passage: breaking hearts on a nightly basis.
As with the love locks on a bridge, the desire to publicly illustrate affection has put another unlikely site in danger. In Scar Wild (the hypocrite caretaker), Bas takes us to the famed tomb of Oscar Wilde, where the act of leaving lipstick-laden kisses has routinely scarred the stone placed in his honor. This outpouring of affection has led to additional acts of vandalism like graffitied notes from admirers. After extensive cleaning, the tomb is now surrounded by a glass barrier. The scene presented is set prior to the tomb's protective encasing where a cemetery caretaker is seen working the “graveyard shift” by candlelight. He has betrayed his own job while cleaning the tomb as he has himself left a mark, evidenced by smeared lipstick and a guilty expression, framed as though the viewer has caught him in the act.
A blue fluorescent glow bathes the sole interior image in the exhibition titled The Sleepover (or, In awe of the artificial). A popular attraction to children and adults alike, aquarium sleepovers provide an experience after dark to “sleep with the fishes”. In Bas’s own words:
“The figure gazes up at a tank just out of view in the scene, his eyes full of wonder. While I love a nice aquarium, and this work is based on the Vancouver Aquarium display I visited a few weeks ago, I take a bit of offense to the look in this character's eyes; what brings him such awe is actually a bit of a farse. With the few exceptions in the wild that have magically survived, most of us who grew up near the ocean know that when you stick your head in the water what you see is far from the magic captured in a jewel box that's presented to you at a typical aquarium. It is for lack of a better term, a curated picture of nature.”
Nightlife offers the audience a fresh glimpse into the odd and curious realms Bas has been creating for over two decades. He is currently the subject of a career survey at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, China.
Solo exhibitions of Bas’s works have been organized by Space K, Seoul, South Korea (2021); Yuz Museum ,Shanghai, China (2021); Centro De Arte Contemporáneo Málaga, Málaga, Spain (2018); Colby College Art Museum, Waterville, ME (2018); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2017); Kunstverien, Hannover, Germany (2012), Bass Museum of Art, Miami, FL (2013); Brooklyn Museum, NY. (2008) Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL (2007).
Bas has participated in a number of important group exhibitions, including Where is the Madness You Promised Me, Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art, Peekskill (2019); Generation Loss, Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf (2017); On the Horizon: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, Perez Art Museum, Miami (2017); 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 (2005); Ideal Worlds – New Romanticism in Contemporary Art, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2005); and the Whitney Biennial (2004).
His work is in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, NY; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Fl.; Perez Art Museum, Miami; Rubell Museum, Miami Fl; Space K, Seoul, South Korea; Leum Samsung Museum, Seoul, South Korea and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.