Hernan Bas: In the Low Light

23 March - 23 April 2005
Victoria Miro Gallery I

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16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW

"Sometimes it is so light.  That hurts my eyes.  And it's too many lamps - little sparkles all over, up high, and large ones that are dreadful.  They could fall on me, you know."
Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

In the Low Light is a body of work which subtly considers contradictions in perceptions of morality, addressing Bas's own notion of 'hell'. As the artist describes, "this is not the hell popularized by Dante or Bosch, but rather a vision of a territory that, even if dark at times, allows for a bit of light."

For this series, Bas has worked with the idea that concepts of hell are very personal.  Here, Bas takes as a point of reference the charged cultural climate of 1960s San Francisco, where a church was founded for which 'hell' actually meant 'heaven'. To the members of the Church of Satan, hell consisted of absolute freedom and permitted a sense of abandon heaven would not allow. Hell was considered a place for artists and outcasts, a place to frolic, indulge and love whomever one wished, and offered a refuge from a perceived 'purity' of heaven. Out of a personal alignment to what is in certain circles considered 'sinful' behavior, Bas has produced works that illustrate his 'hell': a realm where darkness and light are not necessarily at odds with one another and there are no swift distinctions between the 'good' and the 'bad'.

Informed by historical painting and literature, Bas's atmospheric works suggest a fluid, unpredictable time before dawn or at dusk, in which fantasies are played out through posturing or transformation. Decadent dandies, teenage waifs, languid loners and dashing adventurers are some of the characters that populate Bas's ongoing narrative. His works resist a pinning down of time or place, with historical imagery layered with references to contemporary fashion and Bas's invented mythology. Suspenseful and infused with a sense of longing, the works explore implications of love, desire and queer culture through a dreamlike romanticism and wistful nostalgia.

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