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  • In Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway) by Hernan Bas, a male figure drapes a fabric sac over his shoulder as he navigates through a luscious tropical environment. The shimmering wetland springs with abounding vegetation and a luring body of water that together burst in colorful exuberance. Bas’ works prominently feature young men in mysterious landscapes or interior settings that evoke fantasized realms suspended in time and the metaphysical. Painted in 2008, the present work teems with swaths of paint and natural abundance, inviting us into a sensorial reverie while drawing us to the subject with deep sensitivity. Favoring the past in drawing inspiration for his work, Bas channels his influences into highly expressionist contemporary paintings that embody the dynamic balance between abstraction and figuration through a personal lens. Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway) represents the canvas of Bas’ artistic temperament, exemplifying the vision for his paintings that characterize his distinctive practice and compelling presence in the art world.

     

    The Canvas as a Stage

    "I have always related my paintings as being a stage in and of themselves, the curtains having just parted to reveal a scene where something is about to unfold..." —Hernan BasBas views painting as theatrical, relating the relationship as a work of art meant to draw out a kind of discovery or emotion within the viewer. Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway) is a masterful performance of Bas’ rich painterly language, guiding the eye to relish the lustrous colors and thickly applied impasto that appear to ooze out of the canvas and envelop us into a kaleidoscopic, dreamlike landscape. For Bas, Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway) reflects “the characters often overlooked in the theater: the outcasts and vagabond waifs of numerous productions throughout the stage’s history. Often the filler for the production (the background singers, and street extras), I wanted to elevate the role of these characters to the forefront, never the star but essential to the story.”i The figure in the present work encapsulates Bas’ identification with the waif and dandy, characters often depicted in his works, and the coming of age that comes with the quest for meaning and identity.

     

    The Art of Travel

    "The old vagabond tramping through the mire dreams with his nose in the air of brilliant Edens" —Charles BaudelaireUnequivocally, the present work appears to recall Charles Baudelaire’s vagabond from the poet’s longest and most enigmatic poem, The Voyage. Bas is well known for visually referencing 19th-century literary sources he admires, including Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, and Joris-Karl Huysmans, and also looks to decadent art movements such as the stylized and symbolist character of the turn-of-the-century French group Les Nabis. The theme of travel, which closely relates to the Bas’ personal experiences, persistently reoccurs in the artist’s practice as evidenced by the artist’s collaboration with Louis Vuitton in 2012, titled A Traveler. The subject of a nomad traversing nature seen in Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway) was referenced in the commissioned video installation, on which Bas described for its inspiration, “How would a character of mine from one of my paintings handle this world? It came to me that there would be this runaway version of a traveler.”ii Drawing from the distant past and continuing to inform the present, Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway) allows us to step into a mesmerizing world out of reach, a nomad’s land in the imagination through a visual feast.

     

    Collector’s Digest

     

    Concurrent Institutional Show: 
    Miami, Rubell Museum, Hernan Bas, November 18, 2020 - December 12, 2021


    i Hernan Bas, quoted in “Hernan Bas: Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway),” Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, 2013, online.
    ii Hernan Bas, quoted in “Hernan Bas Installation – Aventura Mall,” Digital Pictures, March 2, 2012, online.

    • Provenance

      Courtesy of the Artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York
      TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art, Dallas Museum of Art, October 25, 2008, lot 9
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

22

Downhill at Dusk (The Runaway)

signed with the artist's initials and dated "HB 08" lower right; further signed with the artist's initials, titled and dated "Downhill at dusk (The Runaway) HB 08" on the reverse
acrylic on linen
40 x 30 1/8 in. (101.6 x 76.5 cm)
Painted in 2008.

A portion of Phillips’ revenue for this Lot will benefit World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a conservation organization working to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to diversity of life on Earth.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$70,000 - 100,000 

Sold for $352,800

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
20th Century & Contemporary Art [email protected]

New Now

New York Auction 3 March 2021