Through one of my favorite Honolulu Museum of Art exhibits, I was reminded of the ways in which the Art Deco movement extended beyond the mainland and influenced the production of visual and material culture in Hawaii. One can readily see Art Deco touches on honolulu building exteriors, vintage print advertisements, and era furniture pieces. But it's influence on fine art, and paintings in particular, is less readily recognizable. As I walked through this exhibit I found that artists from this era portrayed a romanticized notion of Hawaii utilizing troupes of 'conquest' and 'the exotic,' while drawing upon the stylistic curves, movements and techniques akin to the period.
Despite the problematic colonialist narratives that were perpetuated through many of the pieces, the exhibit did well to provide a balanced view of the relationship between the subject and subjectors during the early 1900s. This exhibit was one of the Museum's finest and certainly one worth visiting.
At the end of the exhibit visitors can pick up a map and self-guided Art Deco architectural tour of Oahu, something I found to be a nice touch to extend ones Hawaii Art Deco experience beyond the exhibit walls. Afterall, Honolulu herself is a living museum.
Honolulu Museum of Art
900 South Beretania Street
Honolulu HI 96814