The Best of Miami: The Rubell Collection, Hernan Bas

by Art Fag City on December 14, 2007 · 8 comments Events

hernan-bs-21.jpg
Hernan Bas, The Swan Prince, 2004, Acrylic and waterbased oil on linen, 30 40 inches, photograph AFC

Basic questions such as “how good are these paintings” remain surprisingly difficult to answer when applied to Hernan Bas, particularly in light of his copious exhibition history and press accolades. There’s a crudeness to the way Bas applies paint which even to the skilled eye can muddy the distinction between knowing skill, and dexterity with the medium and sloppiness without sufficient resolution. Certainly earlier Bas paintings leaned more towards the latter, though the works currently on display at the Rubell Family Collection gallery exhibit almost astounding growth.

Hernan Bas
Hernan Bas, Photograph AFC

I’m not convinced however, that the work is fully developed yet. While the paintings are undeniably beautifully painted, several on display feature one too many props or affects. For example, the painting pictured above has all the allure of the similarly elongated figures of John Currin, or a contemporary such as Jansson Stegner, but these same references also make the neck piece feel slightly contrived. Virtually all the paintings in this same gallery suffer mildly from too much something or other, be it over work, or excessively complicated landscapes.

By contrast On the Jagged Shore, a largely black and white painting depicting dandy boys along a rocky coast, or The Ribbons After the Party, a small portrait painting maintain a high level of complexity without ever doing too much. The queer narratives take shape without being too linear or directed, and the paint itself holds these grander Cecil Beaton like compositions together.

  • Denny Greenway

    “the distinction between knowing skill, and dexterity with the medium and sloppiness without sufficient resolution.” pretty much encapsulates a lot of what goes on today in painting, especially when both are present in one work. What about when skill or craft becomes a precious end in itself as in a Will Cotton? Anyway, I suspect Bas’s Swan Prince. The body lacks skeletal sense, the figure can’t fit into the simulated space of the shell, the deltoids pop irrationally and the spine is not there, a jelly fish. Intended or not? The brush work seems uncommital in an uninspiring way, not campy enough, not bravura enough, not anemic enough and so on. This argument of shunning skill starts to become a suffocating dictum.

  • Denny Greenway

    “the distinction between knowing skill, and dexterity with the medium and sloppiness without sufficient resolution.” pretty much encapsulates a lot of what goes on today in painting, especially when both are present in one work. What about when skill or craft becomes a precious end in itself as in a Will Cotton? Anyway, I suspect Bas’s Swan Prince. The body lacks skeletal sense, the figure can’t fit into the simulated space of the shell, the deltoids pop irrationally and the spine is not there, a jelly fish. Intended or not? The brush work seems uncommital in an uninspiring way, not campy enough, not bravura enough, not anemic enough and so on. This argument of shunning skill starts to become a suffocating dictum.

  • http://www.ModernArtObsession.com Mike @ MAO

    Yes.. seeing the Rubell Collection and the Hernan Bas show was the high point of our trip to Art Basel Miami 07.

    I thought many of the works in the Rubell collection were some of Hernan’s earlier paintings.

    Hernan’s show At The Firepace Project this September.. “Evening Amusement” was much more accomplished. Any doubts I had about his skill were gone.. I only wish the galery had posted all the paintings online…cause I’d really like to see them again!

    http://www.thefireplaceproject.com/pastexhibitions.html

  • http://www.ModernArtObsession.com Mike @ MAO

    Yes.. seeing the Rubell Collection and the Hernan Bas show was the high point of our trip to Art Basel Miami 07.

    I thought many of the works in the Rubell collection were some of Hernan’s earlier paintings.

    Hernan’s show At The Firepace Project this September.. “Evening Amusement” was much more accomplished. Any doubts I had about his skill were gone.. I only wish the galery had posted all the paintings online…cause I’d really like to see them again!

    http://www.thefireplaceproject.com/pastexhibitions.html

  • Art Fag City

    Wow. I wish I had seen those paintings! They look fantastic.

  • Art Fag City

    Wow. I wish I had seen those paintings! They look fantastic.

  • Bob

    Hernans male figures lack any facial emotional expressions. They might as well be mannequins. Some claim that his paintings reflect his life? if that is true then Hernan is hanging out in the woods, half naked with other men? I find that very hard to believe.

  • Bob

    Hernans male figures lack any facial emotional expressions. They might as well be mannequins. Some claim that his paintings reflect his life? if that is true then Hernan is hanging out in the woods, half naked with other men? I find that very hard to believe.

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