Hernan Bas - Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Saturday, June 1, 2024 | Phillips
  • “When the wind howls
    and a sea full of
    compressed skulls
    surges against
    the windows,
    we are all children.”
    — Henri Cole, ‘Clepsydra’, cited by Hernan Bas for the New York Times Style Magazine

    For Hernan Bas, the title phenomenon of The Hailstorm (he’s been through this before) has the disorienting, inescapable violence of a modern battlefield. Though his paintings usually focus on young men with deep, mysterious narratives, this work’s protagonist is especially hard to read: sitting on a toppled tree in the distance, his face totally concealed by a wide hat, he is barely visible behind the foreground, where something or someone seems to have been crushed by the weather’s sheer elemental force. 

    Long, bright hailstone streaks cover the grimy landscape, filled with roughly-surfaced rocks and foliage; among it spatters of red and black, and the trails of rocks sped across the ground, suggesting that the storm has brutalised something or someone. The boy ignores all this with monk-like calm while staring into the turbulent distance, and a larger mystery remains over what has happened, besides a sense of déjà vu implied in the work’s name: it suggests he is not just enduring more bad weather, but repeating lives and deaths to some degree.

    “My father has recordings of me when I was three or four saying I was going to be a painter. There's nothing I wanted to do other than this. Not to get paranormal, but maybe it was a past life thing.”
    — Hernan Bas

    This combination of mysterious, powerful forces has a personal resonance for the artist, who grew up in upstate Florida. One of the states most given to extreme weather such as heatwaves, hurricanes, and lightning, his isolated woodland town fed a strong appetite for the paranormal: ‘it was kind of like living in "The X Files." There were constant UFO sightings, Bigfoot, ghosts. My older sister was a witch-in-training, you could say. There was an occult section at the library…I love finding those little avenues between my different influences, that all have the same path in common -the path being a general understanding that world isn’t just what’s here’i



    Caspar David Friedrich, Das Eismeer (The Sea of Ice), 1823-1824


    This later expanded into an appreciation for the rich, smoky atmospheres of Southern Gothic , and the decadent fantasies of Baudelaire and Wilde, whose work Bas has referenced alongside the sharper rural poetry of Robert Frost. Among his visual influences, he has cited Charles E. Burchfield, whose more traditional landscapes became marked by tempestuous pictorial violence and an absence of human figures -but, for him, were inhabited by a ubiquitous spiritual presence. He shares this belief with another Bas favourite, Caspar David Friedrich, whose Romantic works infuse the natural world with an inhuman stillness and power -an uncanny throughline that carries into Bas’s more lush, fluid, and frequently disorienting painting style. Though neither gods nor monsters appear in the given work, a sense of something much stronger and less comprehensible than mere weather is hard to ignore.


    Charles E. Burchfield, December Storm, 1941-1960

    Born in 1978 and currently based in Miami, Hernan Bas has enjoyed widespread exposure and acclaim for over 25 years, with his sensuous, mysterious, and esoterically influenced paintings featuring in collections such as the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Saatchi Collection in London. He recently exhibited with Lehmann Maupin, in New York (The Conceptualists: Vol. II, 17 May – 17 June 2023), and at the Bass Museum in Miami (The Conceptualists, 4 December 2023 – 5 May 2024). His current show is with Perrotin in Paris (The First and The Last , 13 April – 1 June 2024).


    i Hernan Bas, quoted in Kate Abbey-Lambertz, ‘Hernan Bas, Painter, Talks Growing Up In Haunted Florida, Working In Detroit’, Huffington Post, 11 April 2012, online.

    • Provenance

      Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Artist Biography

      Hernan Bas

      Hernan Bas (b.1978) is a contemporary American painter who lives and works in Miami. His paintings are influenced by the romantic and decadent legacies of 18th and 19th century art, literature, poetry, and religion. These influences result in canvases that are complex and highly detailed and often portray characters, typically young male figures, nestled among flora and fauna.  

      Hernan Bas received a degree from the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida in 1996. Solo exhibitions of Bas’ work have been curated by the Rubell Museum, Miami, Yuz Museum, Shanghai, and Space, K, Seoul.  Bas’ artwork is found in permanent collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada, and Carré d'Art - Musée d'Art Contemporain, Nîmes, France.

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The Hailstorm (he's been through this before)

signed with the artist's initials and dated 'HB 13' lower right; further signed with the artist's initials, titled and dated 'HB 13 "The hailstorm (he's been through this before)"' on the reverse
acrylic, silkscreen and airbrush on linen
152.4 x 121.9 cm. (60 x 47 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2013.

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,600,000 - 2,600,000 

Sold for HK$1,270,000

Contact Specialist

Anastasia Salnikoff
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2014

Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 1 June 2024