Hew Locke and Hernan Bas in “Top 10 New York Gallery Shows”


Two artists of Caribbean origin have been included in “David Ebony’s Top 10 New York Gallery Shows for April” (Artnet News): Hew Locke, Scottish born Anglo-Guyanese artist based in London, and Hernan Bas, of Cuban-American artist born in Miami, Florida, and based in Michigan.

Hew Locke at Edward Tyler Nahem, through April 13.
Hew Locke’s 2014 exhibition in Prospect 3 in New Orleans, “The Nameless,” made an indelible impression on me. The Scotland-born artist spent his formative years in Guyana, and has been showing internationally for some time. In New Orleans, he presented murals depicting fantastical creatures and characters based on Caribbean mythology, made of countless strands of glittering black Marti-Gras beads and black rope, like that used by Bayou fishermen. Incredibly, Locke has never had a one-person show in New York until now. This exhibition, “The Wine Dark Sea,” titled after a line in Homer’s The Odyssey, marks his solo debut here, and is appropriately momentous and revelatory.

The theme he chose for the show is nautical migration, alluding to the waves of refugees fleeing war-ravaged lands and obsessive regimes around the globe today. Suspended from the ceiling, and hanging several feet above the gallery floor, are dozens of elaborately outfitted toy boats, and intricately detailed model ships—some prefabricated and elaborately embellished by the artist, and others created from scratch. This crowded flotilla sails toward the gallery’s windows, as if to proceed onto the city’s streets. With vessels ranging from Chinese junks to luxury ocean liners, Locke suggests that the boats are all filled with people and goods; the refugees seek a better life in a more hospitable world, a place of redemption, renewal, and hope.


Hernan Bas at Lehmann Maupin, through April 23.
Sensuous and sumptuous, the recent paintings and works on paper on view in this exhibition, “Bright Young Things,” are among Hernan Bas’s most convincing efforts. The Miami-born artist is well known for his exploration of queer identity in figurative compositions filled with equal doses of angst and fantasy. For this group of works, he was inspired by specific literary and art-historical sources to examine bohemian lives of artists and writers in the early decades of the 20th century. Drawing especially on D.J. Taylor’s book, Bright Young People: The Lost Generation of London’s Jazz Age as a source, Bas’s imagery centers on a critique of all things “masculine” following the catastrophic results of male aggression in World War I.

With fresh and lively brushwork, and passages of purely abstract painting inspired by Art Deco designs, works like House Training (South American Blue Flamingo), and The Haunters of First Nights, are striking and unforgettable. The former, a fantastic image, and one of my favorites here, shows two young men at a table piled with conch shells, leading a blue flamingo out of a pan of water. Champagne Corks Bobbed in the Pool That Morning, is a more subtle but equally gorgeous painting showing, as the title suggests, the melancholy, hung-over aftermath of what was, no doubt, an evening of drunken debauchery. The Roaring Twenties, indeed!

For full article, see https://news.artnet.com/art-world/david-ebonys-top-10-new-york-gallery-shows-april-460940

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