Academy shows works of two of Hawai'i's key modernists
By Amaury Saint-Gilles
Special to The Advertiser
The Honolulu Academy of Arts scores high praise for a pair of expertly chosen exhibits curated by Marcia Morse. George Ellis, director of the academy, calls her "the ultimate professional" in his foreword to the "Legacy" catalog. Judging from the diversity and excellence selected, I can only concur.
Honolulu Academy of Arts "Inner World, Outer World: the Art of Keichi and Sueko Kimura" Honolulu Academy of Arts
"Legacy: Facets of Island Modernism"
Henry R. Luce Gallery
Through Oct. 21
Graphic Arts Gallery
Through Oct. 28
Honolulu Academy of Arts
"Inner World, Outer World: the Art of Keichi and Sueko Kimura"
Honolulu Academy of Arts
Indeed, it is this point that drew to to see the collections a second time. And again I felt as if the works reviewed here in Honolulu were remnants of old but treasured memories. It was simultaneously beautiful and eerie to have pre-knowledge of work I knew I'd never seen before.
Morse writes in her preface: "With 'Legacy: Facets of Island Modernism,' we celebrate and pay homage to an extraordinary group of artists who shaped the island art world, anchoring it in time and space and who continue in so many ways to teach an inspire."
I believe what anchors this show are shared cultural forms that seem to have jumped from the Far East to our shores almost without formal ties. Work from both sides of the Pacific now seems in retrospect to have been forged from identical thought processes whose only connection appears to be a shared national origin separated by decades, not to mention thousands of physical miles.
There is no doubt that each of the chosen artists was searching for a new way to express creative ideals. Their efforts through exhibiting and through teaching helped foster an appreciation for the work of many newcomers today. Glimpses of what they experienced and how they were interpreted are wonderfully laid out for the viewer's benefit. The accompanying catalog, so eloquently presented both visually and via Morse's text, puts the public alongside each artist as they journeyed through the past half-century-plus, plying diverse talents and skills.
I wish I had both enough time and access to my library (still cartoned though I've been in Hawai'i for a decade), so as to place Exhibit "A" cooperatively alongside "B" and "C" with its appropriate counterpart. If I could do so, I could better illustrate the many snippets of memory this duo of shows has surfaced for me personally.
Of the few whose names surfaced, I would easily compare the ceramic artistry of Yagi Kazuo, Japan's avant-garde sculptor, to the lyrical efforts of Harve Oyama McVay as seen in "Legacy." Each of her pieces was a revelation in form, mapping textures and experiencing color through a reduction of of choices.
If I should have to choose the one artist who best exemplified the ideals of modernism in this show, I could not! But personally I would lean toward either the dramatic coloring of the late Keichi Kimura or to McVay's symbolic forms to stand as testament to the era the whole group represents.
These shows are a sublime showcase of talents that will only increase your knowledge and appreciation of art and its impact on our lives. The pair of catalogs are reference tools par excellence and as easily savored remembrances.
Amaury Saint-Gilles is a Big Island gallery owner, writer and critic. The Advertiser's regular critic, Virginia Wageman, is on medical leave.