October 14, 2019 | By Jenee Priebe
Bask: 20 Years
Through October 26
Morean Arts Center
The walls of the Morean Arts Center are lined with nearly 100 original hand-painted works by Tampa artist Ales Hostomsky, better known as Bask.
Each masterfully layered piece awaits installation, which the artist insists on doing himself. Installation is an equal part of the creative process for Bask.
Curator of Exhibitions at the Morean, Amanda Cooper understands that, trusting his process despite the nail-biting schedule the artist tends to keep. Bask hung his first show in this same gallery space 20 years ago. His work has since been featured in galleries nationwide and commissioned for blockbuster movies like Ironman 3.
This exhibition, in many ways, is a celebration of self-determination. With no formal arts education, no textbook technique to rely on, Bask built a career by leaning into his mistakes. In the same way that Miles Davis would purposely bend or crack a note on the trumpet, Bask has learned to harness each drop of paint — accidental or not —as a form of artistic risk-taking.
Bask prefers a less calculated method. Starting with just an idea in his mind, culminating in complex paint layers with organic textures and minimal color palettes. Exploration and innovation are key.
“At the risk of sounding cliché, I did it my way,” he says of the retrospective. “I approached this whole art thing without anyone directing me. I had no blueprint.”
The son of a Czechoslovakian cabinetry maker, the artist grew up working with his hands. The physicality and analog nature of his work is evident. As we chat, he drills into the wall to hang the 16th and final panel of the largest piece in his show. He credits his only arts training to a friend, a graffiti artist who showed him how to use a spray can as a teenager.
To this day, Bask is intrigued by graffiti — the only art form that poses the threat of arrest or danger. That same fearlessness is expressed in his work. It’s raw and unrefined but the quality is unmistakable.
In the next room over, Tampa artist Jujmo creates an installation with happy bright colors that bubble and flow across several walls. Her exhibit, ROYGBIV feels as friendly as it sounds. Lime greens and mellow purples sprout from the floor and dance.
It’s a stark contrast to Bask’s moody blacks and eerie reds. Yet somehow the transition from one room to the next is smooth and effortless.
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Explore Bask’s work on Instagram
Explore Jujmo’s work at jujmo.com
Photos by Jenee Priebe.
Full disclosure: Jenee is the SHINE Mural Festival Coordinator.