In another of the 13 new paintings, An aversion to arrows (Tunnel of Love), a solo figure sits on a carnival ride. Bas made the work after finding hours of point-of-view footage online of people riding these forgotten fairground amusements, preserving another fast-disappearing corner of cultural history. “There are very few of these carnival rides left,” Bas said. “You travel up this muddy path through this horrible fake wilderness, but they used to be seen as a rite of passage, that if you survived it, that was part of becoming a man.”
It’s a classic Bas image: The ornate, colorful, riotous scene surrounding his character is at odds with the solitary man, the carriages beside him all deserted. He looks soberly up towards something we can’t, and won’t ever, be able to see.
It’s an eerie tension that is replicated in other works: In The hot seat, a guy with a snake coiled around his neck stares back at us, nonplussed. “I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but I really like to play with that tension,” Bas said. And he’s a master of it. In Three Vampires, there’s a Black Mirror moment, as a perfect male specimen sits at a bar as a bat sucks blood from his arm; in a cabinet behind him hang bags of blood, labeled according to type. These preternatural men seem suddenly aware of their mortality, in a world fixated with fertility, virility, and youth.