A new gallery on Nu‘uanu Street is adding to the art buzz in Honolulu. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports the Ravizza Brownfield Gallery has opened with a distinctly different mission, one that adds another dimension to Hawai‘i‘s cultural cachet.
Ravizza Brownfield: International Fine Art is in the middle of the action in Chinatown, and silent partner, Cristiano Cairati says that is all part of the plan. The gallery is owned by Allegra Ravizza and Shari Brownfield, and their aim, according to Cairati, is to show contemporary European fine art in Honolulu.
Cairati: The idea is to open something that doesn’t yet exist in Honolulu---a gallery that resembles the New York and the more internationally recognized galleries. (We’ll be) presenting artists that are unknown to the island and never had shows here. So the idea is not just a gallery, but asking famous artists to create a project for Hawai‘i.
For their debut exhibition, Ravizza Brownfield is showing Michelangelo Pistoletto, an Italian artist, internationally known since the 1960’s, when he was picked up by influential dealer, Ileana Sonnabend. Signature works in photography, painting and installation often involve mirrors, with the aim of breaking barriers between high art and everyday things.
Cairati: Everyone we’ve shared this information with is incredibly excited. Major, major, major artists. Even though famous artists have representation, for example, someone represented by a major gallery in New York, cannot just go to another gallery in Los Angeles, generally speaking. Even though that’s the case, with famous artists with representation in New York, and I’m talking major galleries, like Gagosian, Dominique Levy, they decided, We don’t care, we still want to do a show in Hawai‘i, this is such a great idea, this is such a fantastic place. We have a list of people that are right now creating work for us.
Cairati: Pistoletto was the first one, he was quick. He had very interesting ideas. We’re waiting for the next person to say, I’m done, and that will be our second show.
Pistoletto created a removable tattoo design, an extra twist on the mathematical infinity sign, that’s available at the show. Why are these successful European artists interested in showing here?
Cairati: Because we are in the middle of literally nowhere, and I think Hawai‘i has a fascination for a number of people. I think right below the surface, which is tourists having fun and partying and going to the beach, there’s a deep respect for the islands and a deep respect for the islands and a deep respect for the culture. Let me say for example, Italy. There’s a strong, strong, incredible connection between Italians and Hawai‘i for reasons I can’t explain.
Are you hoping to sell art here?
Cairati: I’d be happy if I do, but this is not the goal. The goal is to bring famous artists here to show people what famous artists really do, not just from a picture on the internet or something, but too really connect with real art. Not that the art here is not real, but what real art is for the rest of the world. I want children to come to the gallery, I want schools to come to the gallery, I want people to see what a mind like Pistoletto created in 1976 out of rags and a mirror. I want people to get inspired.
Tell us about that piece.
Cairati: It sounds like a simple idea though it’s a complex idea. There’s a double mirror reflecting a bunch of rags,
all white on one end and very colorful on the other end. It’s all about perception and reality in society. Especially in the ‘70’s in Italy, were tough years. Bombs, kidnappings, it was a difficult country in the ‘70’s. I grew up in a difficult country, it was a trying moment for Italians. At the moment, the Arte Povera, meant to teach everyone that we don’t need money, we don’t need solid government, we don’t care about what’s happening in our country. We just want to create something with what we have, and that was rags and a mirror.
The Ravizza Brownfield Gallery on Nu‘uanu Avenuje in Chinatown is showing Michelangelo Pistoletto through the end of May, 2017.