July 14, 2016
October 28, 2016
First Hawaiian Center
Honolulu artist Harry Tsuchidana is well known as one of the generation of Japanese-American artists who emerged in Hawai‘i in the 1950s, along with Tadashi Sato, Satoru Abe, Toshiko Takaezu, Tetsuo Ochikubo, Bumpei Akaji, Jerry Okimoto, Harue Oyama McVay, Keiichi Kimura, and Sueko Kimura.
Tsuchidana was born 1932 in Waipahu, O‘ahu. As a teen, he took classes at the Honolulu Academy of Arts school. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1952 to 1955, he returned to art studies at the Corcoran School of Art (1955-56), then moved to New York City and enrolled at the Brooklyn Museum School of Art and the Pratt Contemporary Graphics Art Center (1957-59). During his time in New York, Tsuchidana, who moonlighted as a night watchman at the Museum of Modern Art, was in contact with Isami Doi, Abe, Sato, and Ochikubo (he met his wife, Violet, at a party at Abe’s apartment). Tsuchidana’s career was jumpstarted when he received a John Hay Whitney Fellowship in 1959, and since then he has pursued his art with particular focus and resolution. He had solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Center (which later became The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu) in 1966 and 1972, at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (drawings) in 1988, and was included in the group exhibition Legacy: Facets of Island Modernism at the Academy in 2001.
The exhibition at First Hawaiian Center is Tsuchidana’s first full retrospective, presenting paintings and works on paper from the 1950s to the present. Among the works on view is a large abstract painting which was among those he submitted to the John Hay Whitney Fellowship competition in 1959, as well as examples of his early printmaking, and drawings in ink, charcoal, casein, and watercolor from the 1950s and 1960s which have never previously been exhibited. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a gallery devoted to his Stage series of minimal abstractions that explore his system for dividing the pictorial space into linear, geometric compositions. It is in the many variations on this theme that Tsuchidana’s talent as a master of color is richly evident. At the age of 84, Tsuchidana continues to work in his studio every day, and included in this show are new exuberant works on paper that may surprise viewers familiar with his past work.