14 February - 21 May 2017
SCAD Museum of Art presents "Florida Living," an exhibition of new artworks by acclaimed painter Hernan Bas. His most recent body of work pays homage to his home state of Florida and includes paintings, screens and sculptures that explore allegory, narrative painting and his personal biography.
Inspired by images of Monet’s painting studio, Bas conceptually approaches the museum’s gallery as a decadent boudoir filled with freestanding folding screens, typically used as room dividers. He responds to the manner in which the paintings were positioned, overlapping each other, and creating new compositions by transforming two-dimensional painted canvas into accidental sculptural elements.
Bas’ folding screens are painted with scenes of beautiful young men subsumed in lush, tropical environments. These sensual and aloof male subjects are at odds with their surroundings and simultaneously integral to them. This tension is furthered through the use of repetitive and abundant forms and formal elements. The artist employs camp aesthetics — such as bright colors and decorative subjects — as a critical device to explore the manner in which meaning is codified. This artistic approach is slyly analogous to the ways in which homoerotic content was historically engaged as subtext in literature, particularly in the work of Oscar Wilde and Joris-Karl Huysmans. It is Huyseman’s dandy protagonist in "Against Nature" that led Bas to imagine a similar character occupying his fantastical room, except one that resides in Florida, surrounded by local vernacular symbols of luxury and abundance, typically a bit campy, such as underwater scenes that are common as murals in seafood restaurants.
In addition, large pink birds are central motifs in "Florida Living." They appear as a flock of spoonbills in pithily titled works such as "The Dawn of Modernity" and flamingos in "Pink Plastic Lures" and "Pink Prose." The artist’s introduction of new sculptural elements in the form of constructed flamingos, extends his interest in creating an absurd, tragicomic and heightened environment
The exhibition is curated by Storm Janse van Rensburg, SCAD head curator of exhibitions.
Image: Hernan Bas, Pink Plastic Lures, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong