by marissa bea
Often lost in the shadow of the Met and the MoMA, the Brooklyn Museum, bless their heart, puts on some thought-provoking and seriously meaningful shows. So when I found my way to the back corner of the 4th floor, I was more than happily surprised to see the wonderful works of Hernan Bas greet me. The 38 pieces all come from the Rubell Family Collection and Bas confirms all that is good about contemporary, young artists and their connection to the past.
You have to turn a few tricks to find the space, which, for the time being is accessible only by a specific elevator while the museum readies itself for another exhibition, but it’s worth asking at the front desk, because you want to come to the exhibit with a clear mind and open heart. Because of the stark nature of the work, it is easy to let it grab whatever emotion you are feeling at the time and make it run wild.
The exhibit combines painting, sculpture, video, and sound, for an impressive array of material in an interestingly intimate space. The layout of the Brooklyn Museum is such that you never know what is around the next corner. Forget the enormous galleries of the larger museums. The Brooklyn Museum holds many, many small rooms, but it does allow for sometimes more intense, personal viewing of the shows. Bas is the perfect artist for a space like this, because you feel like you have been brought into his brain where it is not so easy to leave. His paintings are bright and give you an idea of what it might be like for Donnie Darko if he lived in the world of the Trix Rabbit. Bright, and freaky, and emotional.
The main room holds a special installation comprising a video of mermaids and a large sculpture made of what appears to be beach findings. The entire room, and exhibit for that matter, is blanketed in the sounds of the ocean. Funny how this made me feel both calm and anxious at the same time. His harnessing of this powerful force is quite stunning.
Bas’s art invokes feelings of mysticism, angst and confusion. The aura of Edgar Allen Poe, Alfred Kubin, and abstracted visions of William Blake and Henri Fuseli melt through the walls, mixed with a rockstar state of drugged-up dementia. I felt like I was on an acid trip for much of the exhibit, but a very positive acid trip. Many pieces have a very sexual overtone and I became aware that I was looking through the lens of an artist that struggles with love, life and relationships, just like everyone else on the planet, and this made me connect so much more with every part of the show. There might not be a strong enough word for Bas’s work, but exquisite will have to suffice.