Boy adventurers, waifish fashion models, and a kite in the form of a pirate ship populate the moody and seductive artworks that Hernan Bas made in the early 2000s. With loans from the de la Cruz Collection, this exhibition considers the first five years of Bas’s career, when coming-of-age narratives provided an entry point to the wide-ranging literary and cultural associations that have informed his practice.
Born in Miami, Bas had his first solo exhibition there in 2000, showing a group of works made with SlimFast. In its liquid form, this unlikely painting medium was perfectly matched to his subjects: Kate Moss and her gaunt cohort of the grunge era. Subsequent works by Bas, The Paper Crown Prince among them, promise access to the sublime through acts of make believe in the context of nature. Bas’s landscapes are tropical and the figures set in these environments—boys at the edge of adulthood—appear entranced by the splendors that surround them. Bas also photographed young men in interiors or found them in print advertisements, amending these created and appropriated images with occult symbols to suggest supernatural realms. In the video installation Fragile Moments, paired projections create shifting juxtapositions in black and white, generating an intimate lookbook for this artist of a new century.