Yusuke Hanai doesn't title his works, perhaps because they're beyond the bounds of mere words. Yet the vivid acrylic, watercolor and tape pieces are sure to inspire lively conversation in the Chinatown Boardroom, where they're showing through Sept. 27.
Riding the waves of color
Chinatown Boardroom, the downtown gallery devoted to surf culture and art, is showcasing the whimsical work of Yusuke Hanai, a 30-year-old Japanese artist, in the exhibit "Unexpected Colors."
Gallery owner Jackie Walden became aware of Hanai's work when a friend, familiar with the Waldens' love of water-inspired art (Jackie's husband, Eric, runs the gallery with her), told her to check out his Web site. Walden did and was delighted to find artwork she describes as "surfing meets Mad magazine meets Dr. Seuss."
"I like his work because it's young and fresh and clean -- very original," she says. "He's contemporary and he's a surfer, so he fits in well with our space."
Jackie Walden says Hanai's work "has a vintage feel. His work is surfing meets Mad magazine meets Dr. Seuss."
The artist grew up in Japan but traveled to the United States -- to San Francisco, specifically -- to study art. After his studies he returned home, and now works as a graphic artist in Tokyo.
Hanai's not only been attracting attention in surf-obsessed Hawaii; he's also on the international map, thanks in large part to his participation in "The Happening," a surf film and art festival that's traveled everywhere from Paris and Japan to Australia and New York. Up next for the artist: his own show in Brazil in January.
For all that, Hanai still has a day job as a graphic artist in a Tokyo ad agency, plugging away at his art in his free time.
"He's definitely an up-and-coming artist," Walden says. "I think he'll go places."
"Unexpected Colors" runs through Sept. 27 at Chinatown Boardroom, 1160 Nuuanu Ave. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. Call 585-7200 or visit chinatownboardroom.com.