Just art as usual for eightBy Suzanne Tswei
pals anointed with the title
of 'The Neu Guarde'
Special to the Star-Bulletin
If the eight artists being billed as the "new guard" had their way, they would have chosen a much less lofty title. But it wasn't up to them, and instead of complaining, they seized the occasion to push the envelope. The mostly 20-something artists came up with "The Neu Garde," an even more pretentious title with its non-American spelling.
"We all thought that was kind of presumptuous to be calling ourselves the new guard. But we figure if we are stuck with it, then we might as well push it to be as pompous as possible," says Cade Roster, the group's unofficial ringleader (because the artists came together through their friendship with him over the years).
"Yeah, we don't think of ourselves as young artists on the cutting edge, or as part of (an art) movement or anything like that," agrees painter Kimberly Rector.
They are simply a group of friends who are trying to find their individual artistic paths with varying degrees of success, they say, and other artists should have been included for the show if it were to give a better picture of emerging artists in Honolulu.
The Neu Garde's works are personal and not aimed to shock or set new trends as the self-important title of their upcoming exhibit at Hawaii Pacific University Art Gallery suggests.
And the group's consensus is that the oldest member of the group (who may be the youngest at heart), 35-year-old Jason Teraoka, has the most to say about art. He has been involved in more shows, won more awards and received more critical notice than the other members since he began working seriously as an artist five years ago.
The workmanship of Teraoka's paintings is meticulous, beginning with the construction of wooden frames that he uses as his canvas. Layers of paint and black ink are sanded down and reapplied to create complex but subtle surfaces that simulate the look of drawings rather than paintings.
While his earlier works were colorful, this time Teraoka largely chose a muddled black-and-white palette with a bit of red and yellow.
The content of his art also has become more complicated, cryptic and darker than the earlier cartoonlike work reminiscent of the high school drawings that he gave to school bullies to avoid fights. His favorite piece in the show, titled "March 5, 1963," is not for sale. It grew out of a Japanese folk tale about greed.
"I try to create situations for people to figure out, like this one about an old couple and a sparrow that says you shouldn't be greedy," Teraoka says. "Sometimes I have an idea but I don't always have an idea of what I am going to draw when I begin. I try to figure out the story later."
It isn't easy to decipher the stories, which is as the artist wants it.
The paintings offer no beginning, middle or end. They are mysterious scenes filled with symbols that are sometimes nightmarish.
"A friend says my paintings are like pages torn out of a strange, surrealist children's book," Teraoka says.
But there's nothing in this exhibit to offend the viewing public, except perhaps for a small bit of nudity. And there also aren't any pretty pictures of flaming sunsets and ripe papayas to annoy the avant garde.
What "The Neu Garde," featuring artworks by Duncan Dempster, Karen Hong, Gelareh Khoie, Masako Nitz, Jason Teraoka, Kimberly Rector, Ian Gillespie, Cade Roster
When: Reception 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday; exhibition continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays through Nov. 26
Where: Hawaii Pacific University Art Gallery, 45-045 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe
Click for online
calendars and events.