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A dealer’s dream


basthekeptboyI stopped in the Hernan Bas show at Daniel Reich Gallery, to try to figure out why he’s such a hot ticket, and learned that every painting had sold! While I was there, some disappointed would-be collectors were leaving.

So I asked them why they liked the guy, and they started with the narrative qualities (check), how he reminded them of Goya (really?), and then about the paint quality (if you like scratchy, agitated, struggling strokes, I suppose). Such is the art market feeding frenzy that people believe what they will believe.

basfittinginThese paintings are certainly more engaging than the camouflage-colored watercolors I had seen of his work to date.

For one thing, they have glints of color like the stain of pink blanket (above) in “The Kept Boy” and they have light like the watery reflections of the flamingos (left) in “Fitting In.” For another, the space in some of them is deeper, less hermetic, the imagery more varied. The young men themselves remain isolated, unreachable, and dreamy, their attention turned inward. The narratives feel like illustrations for adventure tales in some magazine called Gay Boy’s Life. The work’s outlook is young and mired in growing pains.

In short, I was glad I saw these works. But sold out?