The Contemporary Museum, 2011
DARREN WATERSTON: FOREST EATER
The Contemporary Museum
and Honolulu Academy of Arts
May 27 – October 2, 2011
“Forest Eater,” conceived specifically for the Honolulu Contemporary Art Museum, explores the mystical and phenomenological aspects of volcanoes. The exhibition title refers to the Hawaiian legend of Pele–ancient goddess of fire, lightning, and volcanoes–who still holds a prominent place in the collective imagination of many contemporary Hawaiians. Pele represents both the destructive and creative forces of all volcanic activity, simultaneously taking and giving life. She is Ka wahine ‘ai honua: “the woman who devours the land.”
The paintings move between abstracted and pictorial representations of Pele and the Hawaiian landscape, depicting not a tropical paradise but a more evocative, haunting portrait of the islands.
“Forest Eater,” with its many allegorical and symbolic references, comprises approximately fifty paintings and works on paper and four site-specific sculptures. The largest of the sculptures is “Wrath,” a forbidding eighteen-foot long vertical lava formation, hanging from the museum’s ceiling.