Islanding: Reuben Tam

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    Reuben Tam (1916-1991). 'Islanding. Blue Channel,' 1988-1990. Archipelago. Acrylic on paper. Gift of the artist, 1990 (21,017).

July 12, 2018 - October 07, 2018
Honolulu Museum of Art


Exhibition Overview

Born on Kauaʻi in 1916, Reuben Tam spent his artistic career studying the elemental forces that shape the natural world. Tidal movement across sandbars and shorelines, jagged cliffs, and churning ocean currents are among his favorite subjects. Islanding features a selection of works from the artist’s Archipelago series, in which volcanic forms surface above water and emerge by way of gestural paint marks.

Tam was a quintessential islander—he divided the greater part of his adult life between Brooklyn, New York; Kauaʻi, Hawai‘i, and Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. Tam earned a degree from the University of Hawaiʻi in 1937, then pursued graduate studies at Columbia University and later assumed a teaching position at the Brooklyn Museum of Art School where spent nearly 40 years refining his depiction of nature’s constant changes through abstraction.