Hernan Bas’s “The Conceptualists” series at the Bass Museum in Miami Beach presents a unique exploration into themes of queerness, desire, the occult, and the absurd. The series, inspired by the unusual hobbies and activities people took up during the pandemic, features fictitious conceptual artists performing eccentric behaviors. This approach offers a perspective on the boundaries and perceptions of conceptual art, questioning the very definition of artistic expression.
Originally debuted in two parts at Victoria Miro in London and Lehmann Maupin in New York, the exhibition at the Bass Museum includes over thirty paintings, with some displayed in a museum for the first time. The Miami Beach exhibition, open from December 4, 2023, to May 5, 2024, also includes Bas’s largest painting to date, a canvas measuring 9 by 21 feet.
In “The Conceptualists,” Bas portrays a variety of idiosyncratic activities as forms of conceptual art. These activities, ranging from carving ice-holding objects to fabricating roadside memorials, highlight an expanded view of queerness beyond sexual orientation. It suggests an artistic approach that challenges societal norms and embraces a sense of the incomprehensible.
One of the pieces, “Conceptual artist #19,” features a fictitious artist using Polaroid self-portraits to mark familiar spots when feeling lost. This work, along with others in the series, reflects Bas’s interest in the interplay between fiction and reality, bridging the mundane with the extraordinary.
Overall, “The Conceptualists” is a continuation of Bas’s exploration of thematic content in art. The series brings perspective to the art-making process, blending of the everyday and the unconventional. The exhibition in Miami Beach provides an opportunity to view these works, offering a glimpse into Bas’s approach to conceptual art.
Currently at The Bass in Miami
Photos taken by Art Observed