Hernan Bas: Memphis Living at Victoria Miro Gallery
Victoria Miro Gallery is spread over two sites in London, each currently showing Hernan Bas: Memphis Living, one the paintings and one works on paper. Perhaps we slightly drew the short straw here by visiting the drawings and works on paper which were possibly works in progress towards the paintings.
The works are quite sketchy, but we have seen more spontaneous sketching. They repeat the drawing of a male ideal, but we have seen more homoerotic work. The gallery provides an A4 sheet about the artist and the works, but the description and background is barely recognisable as relating to the art on the walls. Again, perhaps that all plays out in the paintings. The text describes flamboyant pattern and bold colour, and yet most of these watercolours are muted and mid-range, and the content lacks intensity. Artists often find their youth to be rich material, and here Bas references the Memphis look, the pop culture of the 1980s.
Bas has a fine feel for titles – The 2014 Mr General Idea Pageant; The Great Orange Boycott of ’78 – but these slight works have the feel of an artist’s private sketchbook with scribbled ideas still to be realised…perhaps in the paintings.
Victoria Miro has the strangest lighting. The gallery itself is not over-lit, but each work is bathed in an eyewateringly bright spotlight, which is truly disorientating and triggers the awareness of every little swimming dot in the visual spectrum.
Hernan Bas: Memphis Living is at Victoria Miro Gallery until 31st May 2014. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.