A Closer Look: 8 Reasons to See Artists of Hawai’i

Photos by Mike Orbito.

Wish you could hold a magnifying glass over Hawai’i’s art scene? Nursing a burning desire to see what’s cracking with contemporary art on the outer islands? There’s a simple, quick solution that involves purchasing a single ticket to one location. Make your way to the Honolulu Academy of Arts for Artists of Hawai‘i 2011, where you’ll find 118 works of art by 79 artists from four islands. Here are eight works of art from the juried show, and, if my math is correct, that makes 110 more reasons to visit the museum, pronto. Go get inspired.

Maikaʻi Tubbs

Dissection of a Seventh Grade Eating Complex, 2011

Styrofoam food containers

True story: I’m driving down Meheula Parkway while my friend, who shall remain nameless, consumes your prototypical plate lunch: two scoops of rice, one scoop of mac salad, and some breaded meat patty bathed in brown gravy. After inhaling the aforementioned items with considerable ease, he nonchalantly hurls the empty container out the car window, as if it’s protocol. “This guy!” I shout. This, for unknown reasons, catapulted to the forefront of my memory when I first glimpsed this intricate Styrofoam tower. Tubbs tweaked the containers into a city-like complex, replete with ladders leading from one non-biodegradable level to the next (think Nintendo’s Donkey Kong circa 1980s). The styrene sculpture could double as a dream home for diminutive Barbie dolls or serve as a bastion for beleaguered G.I. Joes. The old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” seems apropos: While my friend jettisons them from car windows, Tubbs transforms them into art.

Aaron Padilla

Union, 2011

wood (pine)

Aaron Padilla’s serpentine sculpture, comprised of wedges cut from lumber and then reconstructed, free-stands in such a perplexing fashion that you’ll be forgiven for overlooking its formal qualities. The way in which Padilla is able to make wood interweave, with such ease and precision, ensures that you’ll see your shoelaces or anything entangled in a novel way.


Donald Dugal

Twenty Improvs On A Bougainvillea Hedge, 2011

watercolor on paper

Each one of these riffs on the popular ornamental plant is a stunner. But together, in their grid-like assemblage, they’re staggering. In some renderings, thick geometric hunks of fuchsia and jagged shards of lime green pilot you to the brink of total abstraction; in others, lacustrine blotches of pink and plum casually foray into realism; in all, Dugal convinces you the bougainvillea is far from ho-hum.

Reem Bassous

Once There Was, Once There Wasn’t, 2010

burnt paper

What would happen if the time machine in Back to the Future ran out of plutonium to power the flux capacitor, and all Marty McFly and Doc had for fuel was a case of Fruit Punch Four Loko to transcend time and space? Probably this. And they probably wouldn’t transcend time or space, either. Bassous’s pyrographic piece recalls abandoned automobile shells in industrial areas, or police photographs of car crashes, and should be required viewing for anyone entertaining the idea of shotgunning beers and jumping behind the wheel.


Rachelle Dang

Portrait #1 (Demonstrators Rally in Yemen, Jan. 27, 2011), 2011

watercolor, colored pencil, ink & graphite on paper

The bravura brushwork in Dang’s figurative piece provides ample reason to gaze endlessly at her portrait of a Yemeni protester. Stand inches from the surface and the sheer accumulation of lines and dots begins to resemble crowds of demonstrators seen from above. Even the speed with which the portrait has been willed into existence echoes the swiftness with which the Arab Spring materialized across North Africa and the Middle East.

Lawrence Seward

Brain Drift, 2011

wood, plaster, steel, paint

Seward’s playfully brainy sculpture may elicit a chuckle, but the layers of meaning and ideas that you can parse from this piece seem endless, like the verses of Odd Future’s Tyler the Creator. Is Seward commenting on the cerebral nature of a lot of contemporary art? Something to think about.


Bradley Capello

Biscuit Diamond Altar, 2011

paper, cardboard, found materials

A wacky spectacle hemorrhaging wacky spectacles, an edification of edible delights, a view into the heretical hinterlands of high art: Welcome to the world of Bradley Capello. Here you’ll find oishi chocolates, glinting gemstones, and muscle men encapsulated in a Rumours Nightclub-ish cage. No proselytizing here, just pure pleasure. Genuflection and prayer at this altar are not required, but if you devote hours to playing Bejeweled Blitz, it’s, like, the same thing, no?

Kloe Kang

Invisible Cities: Hotel Makai 1, 2010

graphite on mylar

Walk through Chinatown inebriated on a bustling Friday night, and the vespertine experience seems synonymous with Kloe Kang’s panoramic cityscape. Perspective, scale and geography collapse, giving way to the recollection of images and incidents: the rococo cracks in a window, the fragrant smoke that curlicued from a restaurant, the massive jittery head of the lion dancer, the way that King, Hotel, Smith and Nu‘uanu seemed to be a single, complicated street, as if someone took a map of the city and crumpled it into a ball.


On Display until September 25, 2011

Honoulu Academy of Arts

900 S Beretania St.

For more information, visit the Academy’s website HERE.

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop