Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

'Forever 2021' at Aupuni Space Is a Jolt of Fun and Color

Set for “A Balancing Meal” Uluwehi Kang’s installation and performance piece at Aupuni Space on view through October 22.
Set for “A Balancing Meal," Uluwehi Kang’s installation and performance piece at Aupuni Space on view through Oct. 22, 2021.

Aupuni Space gallery in Honolulu's Kakaʻako has built a reputation for spotting up-and-coming artists. Adventuresome collectors find fashion and unique conversation pieces in the gallery and studio space on Auahi Street. The latest show is designed to be a jolt of fun and color as Hawaiʻi navigates the pandemic.

Artist Uluwehi Kang has just opened a duo show with Natalia Da Silva called "Forever 2021."

"The spirit that was happening during new year was, 'Okay, It's going to be over! It's time to party again because it's 2021!'"

"But then, COVID's not done with us. So.."

What do we do with the tedium of staying home? Kang's work has often dealt with household objects. In this show, a table and two chairs, and a sort of mantle arrangement get her characteristic sort of touching up.

A Uluwehi Kang.png
Artist Uluwehi Kang

"I think of it more as an intervention with things we interact with every day. How do you change them? How do you transform things?"

Here, Kang makes them look like frosting. Things are a little lumpy, but it's gooey goodness primarily pink and purple. With crimson accents.

"I know everything is very bright. There's a lot of bows, a lot of frivolity, that kind of thing. I like that idea of fantasy. Not childish, or as a child, but child-like. You know in the way of looking at things, kind of from a naive point of view, maybe?"

Reality can have a hard time competing with online fantasy worlds. Hyper-realism has been one way to get people to look twice at an image. Kang, on the other hand, goes Rococo with expanding foam, lace, ribbons, and color.

"And the sort of hyper-saturation of those things is a way of combatting the rest of the bleak things that are going on. It's kind of like creating this alternate environment where you can pretend like other things aren't happening and everything is literally pink and rainbows, and bows, you know?"

Natalia Da Silva has contributed several paintings to the exhibition.

painting by Natalia Da Silva, part of the “Forever 2021” exhibit
Painting by Natalia Da Silva, part of the “Forever 2021” exhibit

"I see a lot of that same sort of, take something mundane and push it, like take it to the limits of the medium itself with her work. Also, that materiality too that we both have."

On Oct. 16, four performers will bring the elements in the space to life.

"So the performance is "The Balancing Meal" and it's supposed to be halfway between a balancing act and a balanced meal. There's four performers, each one of us is a color."

Viewings are by appointment with Aupuni Space, reservations are necessary for the performance.

Kang grew up on the windward side of Oʻahu. She loves Los Angeles and went to school at CalArts. She has been teaching art on Maui and in Honolulu since 2018. Kang finds a small, welcoming creative community here, but no widespread appreciation for what she does.

"This is like a part that I have to not share with friends, family, you know, that sort of thing. Or if I do, they're like 'Oh interesting' but they don't quite understand what's going on."

A common lament, that sends creatives overseas.

"I'm very devoted to the work I do here, especially the work for Hawaiʻi. I think arts education is very important. Me making art here is very important."

"But at the same time, I'm always like, maybe I should go somewhere where I could just start over and be Uluwehi Kang the artist. I don't know."

Meanwhile, you can enjoy this kind of work while it's still being made here. At Aupuni Space through Oct. 22, 2021.

Noe Tanigawa covers art, culture and ideas for Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
Related Stories