Whitehot Magazine

April 2011, Hernan Bas @ Fredric Snitzer

Hernan Bas, 'The Road ahead is Golden...Silver...Bronze.', 2010-11
Acrylic, silkscreen, block print & airbrush on linen over panel, 7' x 18'
Courtesy of Fredric Snitzer, Miami


Hernan Bas: The Forest For The Trees
Fredric Snitzer Gallery
2247 NW 1st PL
Miami, FL 33127
12 March through 14 April, 2011

At first blush, they appear to be dark blobs in an airy warehouse space. After stepping closer, though, the compelling landscapes of Hernan Bas become clearer to the viewer. The Forest For the Trees, Bas’ solo show at Fredric Snitzer (widely considered to be the driving force behind Miami’s contemporary art movement), highlights the meager state of humanity within an untamed, exhausting jungle.

The show’s central work, The Road ahead is Golden…Silver…Bronze, is the largest individual work Bas has ever produced, sprawled out over an eighteen foot-long, seven foot-high wood panel. It is an overwhelming array of tangled, light colors laid over a menacing blue-black wash of night. The tiny moon is just visible over the natural canopy, with a shimmering river coursing through. At the painting’s heart is a young man hunched over, bearing a gushing wound which bleeds into the water beneath him. To his left, a white sedan is perched in the trees at the riverbank. Another brown-tinged car is barely seen further off to the right.

Bas faithfully reproduces the feeling of a vibrant pastoral scene, allowing the complex structures of the trees, foliage and water to structure the overall composition. But what completes this work is a deep melancholy expressed through the exhausted, helpless youth. He seems to reveal a weariness, a sad acceptance that no one will help him. What’s more, while his injury is fresh, it is unclear how recent the car accidents had occurred before or after his arrival; which leads to the realization that others may have been lost and forgotten in that very place.

Each one of Bas’ young men in his works holds a dispossessed, wistful look: seeking some sort of contact or comfort that is far beyond their situations. The visage of the green-eyed boy in The Day The Love Tree Fell is a poignant reminder of our steady loss of innocence, giving way to a world wracked with cynicism and destruction. ‘The Horn of Plenty’ appears to mirror our desensitized attitude towards the luxurious sights and sounds of our modern existence, while that existence continues to incite quiet fascination.

Bas generously layers his surfaces reflecting a solid command of varying brushstrokes, with mesh-like sections of the trees, large sweeps of a palette knife, and deliberate gestures drawing attention to the flattened perspective. Figures are boldly outlined, pulling the viewer back into the tragic narratives in brilliant, stereoscopic color; a delicate balance between distinctive representation of natural forms interspersed with enigmatic abstract elements.

Even more satisfying than the dialogue between what is revealed and what is concealed in the image is the ambiguity of each character’s ultimate end in their respective plots: what are they searching for? Are they hoping to discover or be discovered in the frightening wilderness? For Bas, the point is not looking outward for salvation, but somehow coming to terms with inevitable isolation. Even with the romantic richness of sight and sound that envelops each protagonist, he remains alone and succinctly unfulfilled.

Hernan Bas, The Horn of Plenty 2010
Acrylic, silkscreen, block print, airbrush & oil pastel on paper, 60" x 52"
Courtesy of Fredric Snitzer, Miami

Hernan Bas, 'Hay There, What's Wrong?' (2010)
Acrylic, block print & airbrush on linen over panel, 35" x 28"
Courtesy of Fredric Snitzer, Miami

Hernan Bas, The Day the Love Tree Fell, 2011
Acrylic on linen, 12" x 9"
Courtesy of Fredric Snitzer, Miami

Installation view, 'The Forest For The Trees'
Courtesy of Fredric Snitzer, Miami

Hernan Bas in his studio
Courtesy of Fredric Snitzer, Miami



Shana Beth Mason

Shana Beth Mason is a critic formerly based in Brooklyn now active in London, UK. Contributions include Art in America, ArtVoices Magazine, FlashArt International, InstallationMag (Los Angeles), Kunstforum.as (Oslo), The Brooklyn Rail, The Miami Rail, San Francisco Arts Quarterly (SFAQ), and thisistomorrow.info (London).





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