Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sneak Preview! Something tiki this way comes

And now for something completely different.

I've been wanting to paint tiki images for a long time now, but I hesitated--the idea of making images that somehow caricaturized the divinities of another religion and culture made me extremely uncomfortable.

However, I do love Oceanic art (art from Polynesia, Australia, etc.--islands of the South Pacific) so I studied and researched like I usually do for all my pieces and found what I expected to find:

The Hawaiian Independence movement.

Yes, we've been asked to free Tibet. Let's not forget Palestine. But what's in our own backyards? Ireland? Sardegna? Alaska?

It's never a simple picture with me, is it?

Sure, we can enjoy art and stories outside of context and history, but it all comes from somewhere and our imaginations are impregnated with it, it's in our DNA: we conquer and are conquered, we assimilate and appropriate, acculturate and segregate. What does this all mean when it comes to art, stories, and music?

I think we--the artists, storytellers, and musicians--are as free as the birds who carry seeds with them from island to island, populating the fertile ground with new life, mixing things up to create new beauty. That is, if we do what we do with respect.

If we don't, we're like those "meat sowers"--the sailors that would stop, drop a few pigs onto an island to breed for food at a later time--but would come back to find the land ravaged by the feral pigs, the native animals and vegetation devastated by what they've introduced.

This painting I've just made is an experimental one, more than usual. It's still finger painted, this time with acrylic (which behaves oh-so differently from oils). It's an image of Ku, the most popular "tiki" image from Hawai'i that's brought back by mainland tourists.

I find it ironic that he's also the god of war.

I've painted him in the colors of the Republic of Hawai'i's flag, a reminder that even as we take in and share the joy and peace of the aloha spirit, the people from which this philosophy comes from yearn to be free.

Take care,

I.
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