Rising Artists in Hawaii

There’s more to Hawaii’s contemporary art than ocean scenes and hula dancers. Check out these eight delectably collectible artists whose careers are gathering speed.


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Solomon Enos with work from his “Polyfantastica” series.

photo: mark arbeit

Solomon Enos

“The Thought Manifester,” “The Trillionth Sister” and “The Starmancer”

Solomon Enos is a Native Hawaiian Renaissance man. He has done work the size of a dining hall and book illustrations that can fit in your hand. He has won national recognition for his alternate-history “Polyfantastica” project, shown last year at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. “Polyfantastica,” says Enos, began about a decade ago with a simple question: “What would have happened if we hadn’t been ‘discovered’?”

Enos’s answer is a sprawling, 40,000-year alternate history that begins with ocean-voyaging canoes and ends with peaceful intergalactic evolution. Taking inspiration from science fiction, gaming culture and the Internet, “Polyfantastica” exists as a comic book, a Web site, modeled figures, paintings and more. Enos’s most recent “Polyfantastica” imaginings, seen here, are from this year’s Biennial X at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

It’s a message of poly-possibility that Enos hopes will ring true for young people from indigenous cultures everywhere. “As an artist,” says Enos, “you are responsible for the messages you share. It’s a huge kuleana.” Prices for prints start at $60, but Polyfantastica-related work is not usually for sale. To contact the artist, visit solomonenos.com.


photos: courtesy shuzo Uemoto / honolulu museum of art

Aaron Padilla

“Figure-Eight Knot” Medium: Wood; “Square Knot” Medium: Wood

When he was tapped to be one of Fendi’s Fatto A Mano for the Future artists, working with a craftsperson to create art that could be displayed in a Fendi store, sculptor and painter Aaron Padilla looked to his past for inspiration. “I’ve always been in love with knots. I’ve been a fisherman since I was a little kid, and my dad would teach me” how to tie and use various knots, says Padilla.

After studying weave and knot diagrams, Padilla cut dimensional lumber into hundreds of carefully angled wedges, then reassembled them into the sinuous curves pictured here.  When people ask him why he works with common woods like pine and maple rather than exotics like mango and koa, he replies that he likes to uncover what’s special about everyday materials. “For me, the simple stuff is just as beautiful,” he says, “I want people to discover the complexity in simple things.” Prices for knots start at $1,000. aaronpadilla.com.


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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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