From street murals to Honolulu: A chat with Bask

The local artist gets around.

click to enlarge Bask in front of one of the 19 sections of his mural located on the 600 block in Downtown St. Pete. - Nicole Abbett
Nicole Abbett
Bask in front of one of the 19 sections of his mural located on the 600 block in Downtown St. Pete.

Self-taught St Pete-based artist Ales Bask Hostomsky, recently kicked St. Pete’s downtown art scene up a notch with a new mural on the 600 block of Central Avenue. Every section of the 100-foot-wide mural is a detail or a prominent piece of his existing artwork as a retrospective of how he has represented the city St. Pete. The art referenced in the mural were all painted locally, but span to art shows all over the world.

The year ahead pretty solidly booked and starts off next week in Hawaii at a week long event called POW! WOW! HAWAII — an onomatopoeia that encapsulates the impact and wonderment of art.

Bask will be in a group exhibition at the Honolulu Museum of Art, curated by Andrew Hosner of Thinkspace, running from Feb. 8 to Feb. 15. His schedule of events also includes painting a mural in the streets of Kaka’ako. This will be followed by a solo show in Denver in May, another solo show in Detroit in August, Art Basel in Miami in December, and subsequently by a joint show between he and his friend Tes One in San Francisco.

A lot of his art spans from the ’80s — it’s raw, gritty art with layers of spray paint, showing admiration to his predecessors of the Pop Art genre. Challenging the traditions of fine art, the imagery he uses is reworked and turned on its head. 

When he was 8, Bask's family immigrated here from the Czech Republic and has been drawing and painting as far back as he can remember. He has worked as an artist the majority of his professional career. In his early 20’s he started showing in galleries and museums. Carpentry skills he learned while working for his father making cabinets have influenced  his work. His professional pursuits began in the late ’90s. From that point it took him about 5 years to form a sold credibility in the art world and has been making a living from it ever since. When asked what his dream project would be his response was humble, yet unmasked his drive, determination and passion for art.

“With the trajectory in which my career is going, it will eventually reveal itself. Everyday I wake up and get to make art. I’m living the dream project.”

From a creative standpoint, the scariest thing that has ever happened to him was in Detroit. Bask was commissioned to create a cover piece for a book a woman was writing about the city by constructing the letter “D” out of Detroit debris. The initial location was set to be at an abandoned train station that also once housed a hotel above and was devised by the same firm who designed New York City’s Grand Central Station; however, due to a shortfall, the project was moved across the street.

“At this point I’m standing underneath this wall made up of over 1,000 pounds of concrete and we realize it’s starting to tilt and is about to fall down," he recalled. "Then I realize my template is attached to the wall. I had to climb up and pry the wall off to get my template!”

Most people would have given up, but not Bask. He continued on to complete the project at a third location.

Last year was probably his best accomplishment. His art hit the big screen in Iron Man 3, one of the biggest movies of 2013. Bask decorated the set of the nefarious villain’s lair with over a dozen of his graffiti-esque canvases and sold a piece to Robert Downey Jr., the star of all three Iron Man films. The movie dominated the box office, scoring the second biggest opening weekend of all time.

To see more of Bask’s art or to commission him for art of your own, check out his website at knownasbask.com

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