Members of the Gallery’s Contemporary Patrons group travelled to Hawai‘i recently to experience the second iteration of the Honolulu Biennial (HB19), a two-month celebration of contemporary art from Hawaii and the Pacific.
HB19 MAKE WRONG / RIGHT / NOW featured 47 artists and artist collectives from Hawai’i and the countries and continents linked by the Pacific, with its title drawn from the poem Manifesto by participating Native Hawaiian artist Imaikalani Kalahele. The Biennial’s strong commitment and ambition to present and nurture contemporary art and artists in Hawai’i was evident in this second presentation, which extended to multiple venues and sites across the city.
QAGOMA’s visit began with a tour of the Bishop Museum’s extensive collection, led by artist and cultural advisor, Marques Marzan. The Museum’s objects, photographs and displays provided valuable insights into Hawai’ian history and Hawai’i’s connection to other Pacific island cultures, as well as context for a number of contemporary issues referenced and expressed by artists in works displayed in the Biennial.
Warmly welcomed by the HB19 Board, Executive Director, Curators and staff, as well as representatives from the Bishop Museum, Ali‘iolani Hale and Honolulu Museum of Art, QAGOMA’s Contemporary Patrons were deeply moved by the ‘aloha’ spirit extended to them by all associated with the Biennial.
Over three days the group enjoyed a varied itinerary taking in special HB19 preview tours and opening events at the Biennial’s primary exhibition space ‘The Hub’, as well as viewings and tours at partner sites including Foster Botanical Gardens, Ali‘iolani Hale, Honolulu Museum of Art and the Hawai‘i State Art Museum. These provided opportunities to meet and hear directly from a large number of HB19 exhibiting artists as well as local curators.
Related: APT ‘The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT) is the Gallery’s flagship contemporary art series. Since 1993, the series has presented a unique mix of the most exciting and important contemporary art from the region.
While in Honolulu, the group also connected with resident artists who featured in previous instalments of QAGOMA’s flagship exhibition series, ‘The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT). Artists Masami Teraoka (APT5) and Solomon Enos (APT6) both generously opened their studios to share current projects and discuss recent developments in their practice.
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Another opportunity not to be missed was a visit to the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture and Design, the former Honolulu home of American heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke (1912-1993). Inspired by Duke’s extensive travels throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia and reflecting architectural traditions from India, Iran, Morocco and Syria, a tour provided by the Honoulu Museum of Art of this opulent home located on absolute beachfront was among the highlights of a very enlightening and stimulating trip.
Dominique Jones is Foundation Philanthropy Manager, QAGOMA
Feature image detail: Solomon Enos Polyfantastica 2018, HB19