The grandeur of our natural world takes over Hugo Bastidas’ large format paintings in his newest exhibition at the Nohra Haime Gallery. Bringing to our attention the beauty that we overlook in our surroundings, Bastidas creates images where reality and fantasy coexist to form a connection with his personal and persuasive visual language.
These works are inspired by images of woods, jungles, riversides and gardens taken by the artist on his trips throughout the U.S, Ecuador and France. Using alluring elements of connection such as chandeliers, circling vines and bridges, he draws our attention to the spectacular visions of nature endangered by human actions, often ignored and abused.
Bastidas brings light into his grisaille-like paintings in a delicate yet awing technique. Playing with the effects that the artificial light of the chandeliers create in the woods, he recreates the magnificent aura of a lit up palace in the context of lush vegetation growing wildly in the open air. In Illumination (2015) we see this sense of greatness that is emphasized by the decontextualized chandelier, mysteriously camouflaged in the mist of the grisaille, but referenced as the main light point.
Sleepwalking (2015) continues Bastidas’ ongoing series of bridges, and dives deeper into his poetic complexity of intertwined reality and fantasy. Before us we see a bridge covered in its opposite side by overgrown vegetation, inviting us to cross it, but hiding from us what it keeps on the other side. It references the necessary flux of change in our world; where there is no stopping; albeit not necessarily knowing where it is taking us.
We see a common element of circulation in these paintings, of nature wrapping the scene, a symbol of the circle of life, where everything is connected in its sense of grandness. So Similar (2015) becomes even more literal, with circles floating and ovals hanging, a visual metaphor of how the differences in our cultural and political systems become so close to each other in their extremes.
Bastidas brings these subjects to us with an intense sense of hope; his concerns brightened in the same way the chandeliers lit up the gloomy woods. In representing the majestic beauty in our environment, he points out how we should stop, be aware of it and celebrate it as the Grand Paleia (2014) we are fortunate to inhabit.
Bastidas is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship as well as a Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, among other awards. He exhibits widely in the United Sates and is represented in the collection of numerous museums.