Back To Top

The rising U.S. artist Hernan Bas holds first exhibition in Korea

Visual artist invites viewers to a world of fantasy and tests their beliefs

The Miami-born Cuban-American artist Hernan Bas is a prominent young artist in the contemporary art world who has attracted worldwide attention lately with his dreamy, imaginary paintings with expressive and bold brushwork.

His first exhibition in Korea, also his first in Asia, at PKM Trinity Gallery in Seoul features five paintings, 14 photographs and a film, all put together under the theme of “a brief suspension of disbelief” inspired by fantasy.

The paintings are based on the idea that you have to stop believing in reality in order to appreciate things, Bas explained on Monday at the gallery in Seoul.

His paintings are a mix of literature and horror films he likes to watch as well as his childhood memories and experiences.

“For me, there’s a bit of humor in it, because in cinema, they rely so much on the suspension of disbelief. The best example is in Superman, if you put the glasses on, you don’t look like a Superman, but you are actually a Superman. That sort of suspension is magical for me,” said Bas.

One of his five paintings showcased in the Seoul exhibition is based on the magical world of Harry Potter. Bas found the Harry Potter theme park he visited in the U.S. another good example suitable for the exhibition title because he found children running around being happy in what’s actually a fake world. 
“A Brief Suspension of Disbelief (Amusement Park Jungle Cruise)” by Hernan Bas (PKM Trinity Gallery)
“A Brief Suspension of Disbelief (Amusement Park Jungle Cruise)” by Hernan Bas (PKM Trinity Gallery)

Bas also relies on a scary atmosphere as another way to express the theme.

In “Tracing shadows (or, the mistaken silhouette),” two boys trace their shadows with chalks for play, but Bas created a spooky atmosphere with the shadow of bat wing appearing on one of the shadow figures.

“It makes it like a demon,” Bas said, adding that ghosts are another example of suspension of disbelief. “I like the fact that the brief suspension of disbelief can also become the scary things.”

The backgrounds of his paintings are landscapes, sometimes drawn with perfect horizontal lines, but sometimes abstractly.

“For me, it’s bit of love of abstraction. With the landscape, you can make it abstract, but still can make it look like a mountain. It’s easier to create an illusion. I like the freedom of doing landscapes,” Bas explained.

He pays homage to his favorite artists in his paintings including the Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte and the abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.

He mixed different painters’ styles in his painting called “Horticulturalists dream,” which he said was fun to paint with having no rules using abstract methods.

The Seoul exhibition also features Bas’ photography works, which he rarely reveals to the public.

“I haven’t shown photographs. I have been shy about it for almost eight or nine years, but decided to show the photographs,” said Bas.

He photographed 14 fairies ― cutouts of characters in his paintings ― in the same way the two British girls who claimed they had found fairies in Cottingley, England, in 1917, did. But it was a bold step for the young artist defying criticism that he uses fairies as derogatory and homosexual terms.

Bas said he found it funny when people asked him whether the photos are digitally fabricated - the question which no one asked 100 years ago when two girls claimed they had found fairies. People believed that the girls had really found fairies.

“One hundred years ago, it was real, and now they question if it’s fake,” said Bas.

Hernan Bas’ “A brief suspension of disbelief” runs through July 20 at PKM Trinity Gallery in Apgujeong-dong, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 515-9496.

By Lee Woo-young (
Korea Herald Youtube