Honolulu Museum of Art at First Hawaiian Center

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    Miki Nitadori. 'Sakura,' 2013, transfer on printed fabric.

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    Brian Sato. 'Masaji Kobayashi,' 2002, giclée print.

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    Satoru Abe. 'Splitting Seed,' 2010. Laser woodcut with oil paint.

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November 21, 2013 - March 31, 2014
First Hawaiian Center

Exhibition Overview

Pathway: New Paintings and Laser Woodcuts by Satoru Abe

For the past 65 years, Hawai‘i-born Satoru Abe has been creating paintings and sculpture in Hawai‘i and New York. Along with fellow artists Harry Tsuchidana and other members of the Metcalf Chateau, a group of seven Asian-American artists with ties to Honolulu that includes Bumpei Akaji, Edmund Chung, Tetsuo Ochikubo, Jerry Okimoto, James Park, and Tadashi Sato, Abe was instrumental in the establishment of Honolulu’s art scene. Born in 1926 on O‘ahu, he first traveled to New York in 1948 to study art at the Art Students League, later returning to Hawai‘i where he is well known for his public sculptures.

Satoru Abe presents two bodies of work in this exhibition. Enter from the Left, Enter from the Center, Enter from the Right comprises digital prints of an original painting, on top of which Abe paints anew, creating variations in color and texture within the same compositional structure of three entrances or “pathways,” as the artist describes them. The paintings, although abstract, allude to doorways or entrances that lead to an unknown place. The geometric forms of the doorways might have a stark appearance if it weren’t for Abe’s additions of color and texture, lending the works a warm, inviting feeling. It is this tension between the linear and painterly qualities in the works that adds excitement and ambiguity to the pieces.

Abe’s second body of work consists of wood panels with laser-cut images based on his designs. He begins with a drawing and then inputs the images into the computerized laser engraver, which slowly carves away a small amount of wood at a time. He then rubs oil paint onto the raw wood surface which settles in the grooves of the cutting and penetrates the grain of the wood, creating delicate, abstracted compositions of line and color depicting Abe’s classic motifs of natural forms.

Brian Sato | GOKURŌSAMA: Hawai‘i Nikkei Nisei

This exhibition represents the culmination of a project that photographer Brian Sato began 11 years ago to document the physical and cultural identity of the Nisei (American-born second generation of immigrant parents from Japan) of Hawai‘i.

The artist states:

“The Issei [first-generation Japanese immigrants] placed their hopes for a better life upon a string of tiny islands centered within the vast Pacific Ocean. Isolated both in place and spirit, for those who did not succumb to the harsh realities of plantation life and return to Japan, Hawai‘i would become the birthplace of their children, the Nisei—the second Japanese-American generation.

Indeed, the Nikkei Nisei portrait is one that is painted with copious amounts of blood, sweat and tears. However, those sacrifices served to forge a strength of character that defined their generation. On a personal level, it armed them with the confidence to succeed; and on a larger scale, it empowered them with the moral strength to ultimately prevail over injustice perpetrated by their own country, and fueled their desire to improve their lives and protect the civil rights of other groups under persecution.

Clearly, we should learn from their example and adopt their lessons in self-sacrifice, integrity, resilience and community-mindedness as a guide, as we face similar and dissimilar challenges and adversities today and in the future.”

Reflect: Miki Nitadori

Miki Nitadori grew up on Maui, and currently lives and works in Paris, France. She is interested in the subjects of identity, memory and community and is inspired by the Japanese immigration to Hawai‘i beginning at the end of the 19th century.

Her most recent body of work is based on a collection of family photographs from a Japanese-American family in Lahaina, Maui, that were discarded in a suitcase. The suitcase of photographs made its way to Paris, France, and was eventually discovered by the artist. For Nitadori, the odyssey of the photographs in the suitcase carries a message from the past to the present generation: “Do not forget your ancestors and where you came from.”

The photographs were scanned, enlarged, sometimes cropped and manually transferred onto printed fabrics, which represent a diversity of cultural, traditional and symbolic patterns that reflect the environment and community.

Another body of work, Interface, addresses the question of whether one can live without any link to ones origins or without a history. Images from the late 1890s to 1950s and 2000 to 2010 are overlapped and layered to show the past that haunts the present.

Exhibitions and programs at First Hawaiian Center are sponsored by First Hawaiian Bank.