“In This Order” November-December 2009. thirtyninehotel Honolulu, HI
In this show, I broke completely from the notion that I had to have paintings in an exhibition, and I allowed myself to explore an idea that I found interesting simply because I felt an impulse. Even though the work seems very traditional and very controlled (framed drawings), this was my most successful show, in that I was able to really let go mentally and allow the work to manifest itself without reprimand from my conscious mind.
I started out thinking about sustainability and consequently ideas of sovereignty. How any one peoples’ ability to govern themselves or control their own destiny is directly related to their ability to provide for themselves. This concept concerned me especially because we live on an island that is almost completely reliant upon shipments of products from other lands.
At the same time I was preparing for this show, I began to pay a lot of attention to shipping freighters… Chinatown is right on the edge of the harbor, so I saw a lot of these ships every day. Enormous floating islands carrying a multitude of these huge containers in and out of the harbor day after day after day.
Several of these freighters showed up in my sketchbook, and they quickly became the focal point of this show. At some point early on, I came up with names for the ships… the Teensy Vigor and the Onry Vestige. (Both anagrams for the same word – no, I’m not going to give away what that is. At least not here.) And I pitted them against each other in these very static, flat scenes. I made a bamboo pen and drew with sumi ink over washes of jasmine tea on archival paper. The tea lended the notion of international commodity and trade to the works.
The show was tongue in cheek and a bit absurd, but that was what I liked most about it. Miniaturizing these gigantic ocean freighters down to little pen and ink drawings floating on large scale tea stains going about their miniature businesses.
Parallel to this, I was working on some smaller drawings that took the flowing wave forms from prior shows and transformed into something surprising. I had already done a set of drawings in which the wave forms felt like portraits. At least, each one felt like they had a personality of their own. And in this new set, I was working with the hand made bamboo pen and trying to work much more quickly… much more intuitively. They eventually took on the shape of awkward early creatures forming out of the primordial ooze. Not only did they have personality, but they had begun to move. I lovingly refer to these as the Divine Contortions.
I intend on getting better photos taken soon. I just haven’t yet had the time. Working on it.