Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Tiki Culture"

Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker is an artist / resident of the active volcanic island of Hawaii. His art journey began when he was thrown out of an advanced painting class at UCLA, by a professor who told me him could not be taught because he was "an illustrator not an artist!" For many years he believed this. He believed the "Art World" axiom that "painting is dead". But soon he discovered that art was rising from the grave! Robert Williams was breaking down the walls between lowbrow and highbrow and showing art that made Parker's heart sing and dance, and made his DNA mutate! Brad transitioned from a commercial illustrator into a fine artist. He ceased taking all Hollywood storyboard and illustration jobs, spent every red cent he had, and moved to the Big Island to be near the source: the burning hot lava center or the environmental/geological catalyst the spawned the birth of "Tiki" art hundreds of years ago. Later tiki art, washed tsunami-like onto American shores as "Hawaiiana" in the 50's, and again as "Tiki Culture" in current hipster-kitsch vernacular.

"What I create has little to do with traditional Hawaiian art, or the art most galleries in Hawaii show: tourist art of dolphins, and sea scapes. What I do is Polynesian pop-surrealistic art. Living and making art on the edge of this volcano, I witness the natural beauty, the cataclysmic clash of cultures, and the strange devolution of primitive art into kitsch and evolving back up again into Modern Pop Art and yet again into my own personal obsession. I cannot stop pealing away the historic layers of icons so changed that they have become the opposite of what they started out as. Figures feared as war gods placated by human sacrifice and used in possible black magic death rituals are now copied out of museum catalogs and reproduced over seas as plastic good luck Tikis and handed to children. Which is the point. Man looks at the horror and meaninglessness of life, and tires to make sense of it. Time steps on and horror becomes comedy, yet still we seek the meaning of it all. What happens when we face our last sunset? Is there any strange idol or being waiting for us on that twilight shore to take us and show us where we go next? I think my art is hopeful. The human imagination raging against the void. Nothing is certain, so anything is possible."

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