Hernan Bas at Victoria Miro, London

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26 April – 31 May 2014

Victoria Miro Gallery II
16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW

The American artist Hernan Bas has built an international reputation over the last decade for paintings that merge still life, portraiture and landscape within a deeply romantic sensibility. His work portrays an overt theatricality, offering a queering of historical genres, and is populated by beautiful objects and alluring boys—Bas never depicts women. His canvases are dense with incidence and intrigue, and can be aligned to artists such as Neo Rauch and Daniel Richter who similarly applied a flamboyant narrativity to figuration. If Rauch and Richter feel a little heavy metal, then Bas’ approach can be situated more on the dance floor. The paintings are exalted; at once psychedelic and narcotic. Victoria Miro presents a new series of paintings and works on paper across two venues, which are brought together under the single title “Memphis Living.” Lifted from the post-modern Italian design collective Memphis Group, the title articulates Bas’ interest in the historical impetus of design and decoration. The group was noted in the ’80s for their elision of applied arts with a formal eclecticism, and Bas’ new paintings are packed with references to the group’s work. This playfulness and historical layering brings new energy to an old technique. The exhibition, the artist’s fourth with the gallery, coincides with the most comprehensive monograph on the artist to date, published by Rizzoli. (George Vasey)

Gallery website

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