Hernan Bas & Zadie Xa: House Spirits
June 10-July 16, 2022
Jessica Silverman is pleased to present “House Spirits,” a two-person exhibition featuring paintings by Hernan Bas and multimedia works by Zadie Xa. Both Bas and Xa are avid colorists interested in animism, alternative social histories, and the afterlives of cultural paradigms.
For this show, Bas has made three ambitious history paintings and two smaller pieces. While 18th and 19th century history paintings commemorated war victories and treaty signings, Bas’s bygones are techno- and psycho-social. In December 31, 1999, 11:58pm, for example, a boyish figure sits on his hands, waiting for the new millennium when, according to “Y2K” hysteria, computer systems would wreak havoc on the Western world. Besieged by ominous shadows, iMac G3s, and CD-ROMs, the young man wears comic New Year’s Eve party glasses, emblematic of the influence of mood-altering myths.
Similarly, in Disco Demolition Night, a lost soul stands in the outfield of a baseball stadium, surrounded by broken vinyl records, wondering where, and perhaps when, he is. This minimal color-field painting with Seurat-inspired strokes of grass is Bas’s reply to a Warhol race riot painting. A critical reflection on the 1979 “Disco Sucks” protest and riot, the painting depicts a straight white boy, who has lost not only his shirt, but the prospect of guaranteed dominance. Indeed, the liminal experience of marginalization is so disorienting that the scene feels paranormal.
An artist of Korean descent, Zadie Xa understands the double displacement of growing up in Vancouver, then migrating to London, England. Through a range of mediums, Xa strives for ancestral empowerment through exploring the pagan spirituality of the Korean peninsula, before the colonial incursions of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity. In a pair of sculptural hanging garments, Xa explores the power of ritual and robes to transform the wearer from outcast to shapeshifting shaman. The floral motif on Princess Bari refers to the famous shaman who guides souls safely into the afterlife, while the knives stitched into Kimchi Rites, Kitchen Rituals, evoke the matriarchal creation of a superfood and source of national pride.
Similarly, Xa’s textile paintings combine an improvisational, high modernist love of abstraction with the embodied remnants of Korean folk art. Respectively titled Seven Full Moons and Vancouver Sunset, the works betray Xa’s love of the West Coast, a land of sunsets, and her desire to mark time in ancient ways, where the temporal was measured by spatial movement and skyscapes were cosmological dreamscapes.
Hernan Bas (b. 1978 Miami, FL) has shown in many important group exhibitions including the Whitney Biennial and Venice Biennale, as well as shows at the Samsung Museum of Art (Seoul), Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh) and Pérez Art Museum (Miami). His works are in the collections of MoMA (New York), Brooklyn Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, DC), MOCA Los Angeles, MOCA North Miami, the MFA Boston, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto). He has enjoyed solo shows at the Yuz Museum (Shanghai), Space K (Seoul), Rubell Museum (Miami), Centro De Arte Contemporáneo Málaga (Spain), Colby College Art Museum (Waterville, ME), SCAD Museum of Art (Savannah, GA), The Bass Museum of Art (Miami) and Kunstverein Hannover (Germany). Bas lives and works in Miami, FL.
Zadie Xa (b. 1983 Vancouver, BC) has a solo show opening at Whitechapel Gallery (London) on September 20, 2022. She has exhibited in group exhibitions at Castillo di Rivoli (Turin, Italy), Haus Der Kunst (Munich), the Polygon Gallery (Vancouver), Arnolfini Arts (Bristol, UK), and MoMA PS1 (Queens). She has enjoyed solo exhibitions at The Box (Plymouth, UK), Leeds Art Gallery (UK), Tramway (Glasgow), Yarat Contemporary Art Space (Baku), Galería Agustina Ferreyra (Puerto Rico), Union Pacific (London) and Pump House Gallery (London). Xa has presented performances at the National Gallery (London), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Hayward Gallery (London), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), and Serpentine Gallery (London). Her work is in the permanent collections of the UK’s Arts Council Collection and British Council Collection. She has an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art and a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Xa lives and works in London, England.