Into View: an exhibition of narcissists
Gallery ʻIolani, Windward Community College
January 30—February 27, 2015

Images by Haren Soril

The show is called Into View: An exhibition of narcissists, which sounds sober and clinical, with its triple-reference to vision and exposure. But thanks to Lauren Trangmar’s epic typographic sculpture of the Drake-inspired hashtag, executed by layering hundreds of precision-cut green Starbucks straws (rendered above), it will be remembered as the “#YOLO” show.

”Millennial” artists (born between the late-1970s and mid-1990s) are marketed as self-centered, socially liberal, digitally immersed, and stuck at home. IRL (“in real life,” for those non-Millennials), they rummage through the dustbins of the ’90s, and are less concerned with how the Internet works than how effectively it delivers what they want. The result is a hypertextual, chopped-and-screwed undertone to their creations, which feature a blend of conceptual art, postmodernism’s superficiality, and a genuine pursuit of technique.

Painter Alina Kawai marries traditional portraiture and aerosol calligraphy on surfaces that simulate streets. Kalani Largusa uses the digital error as a point of departure for his paintings, eclipsing the electronic roots of his process with huge surfaces that juggle scale, texture, color, and rhythm, to powerful effect. Meanwhile, Landon Tom’s “Everything Is Awesome” is a Japanese robot model decorated with samples of its instruction booklet, battling the blueprint of its own actualization. Andrea Charuk’s contribution documents her 3rd grade students, who, faced with the shock of the nude, opt for censorship, depicted in a short video and six variations of blackout, page mutilation, and reckless doodling.

Is following such lines of post-hip-hop recombination what being a Millennial feels like? Perhaps. Does this herald a new movement or school? No. Have emerging curators Erika Enomoto and Shulang Zou (themselves Millennials) put together a coherent show that lets these young artists speak for themselves? Absolutely.

Through Into View, Enomoto and Zou have reiterated that art’s strength and meaning isn’t based on demographics, but is still derived from the seriousness and training of the artist that makes it.

Tags: arts