Artist Sanit Khewhok masterminds new installation in Manoa
Hues stretch across the walls of Manoa Gallery, briefly pausing on canvases as they evolve in their journey throughout the room.
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Hues stretch across the walls of Manoa Gallery, briefly pausing on canvases as they evolve in their journey throughout the room. The organic flow of color arises from the exhibit “New Artists, New Works,” at Manoa Gallery. The fall exhibition showcases paintings, prints, photographs, digital works, ceramics, glass, wood and jewelry from Hawaii’s contemporary artists and craftsmen.
The pieces were carefully arranged and hung by one of the exhibition’s featured artists, Sanit Khewhok. Although his name is new to the gallery, he is no stranger to the art world. Born in Trang, Thailand, he has called Honolulu home since 1986, working as a curator, collections manager and conservator at museums and galleries on Oahu.
As a practicing artist, Khewhok has exhibited his work for more than 40 years. In 2010 he was awarded the Catharine E. B. Cox Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts —a biennial award given to a visual artist who is a former or current resident of Hawaii.
Asked about his method of hanging the current show, he says, “When I put it together, I’m making sure the works help each other, rather than fighting.” He considers color, size, shape and form.
As for his choice to display abstract art, Khewhok explains he enjoys going back and forth between abstract and figurative works.
“For me, abstract gives me freedom to use more colors than I would (normally) have to portray in figurative art,” he said. “But at the same time, if I work for a while doing only abstract, I’ll look at my work and ask myself if it means anything. So when I start to question art like this, my work will go between abstract and figurative.”
OF THE 88 works currently displayed on the walls of Manoa Gallery, Khewhok has created eight.
The themes and inspiration for these pieces come from various aspects of Khewhok’s life — anything from shapes and forms he sees when cooking to scenes from nature television programs, he said.
“Inspiration can come from anywhere. It comes from any source,” he said.
Regardless of inspiration, if there’s one thing the majority of his works share, it’s his straight lines. The use of them may remind viewers of the style of figurative painter Francis Bacon; however, Khewhok’s straight lines have a different purpose.
He explains, “A lot of [Bacon’s] work is figurative, but his work isn’t like a normal figurative artist. It has more distortion and he has lines that sort of block portions of the image, to look at the work a certain way.
“For my lines, I use them more to connect to points of the work.”
At the age of 75, Khewhok is constantly creating. In the last two years he has been periodically swapping his paintbrush for a stylus, he said, experimenting with digital art using the mobile apps on his phone.
“It’s a learning process. I’ve learned things that I’ve never encountered before,” he said. “When you look at a painting, there isn’t any light coming through the back or sides. You can see the softness much better in a screen, because everything’s so sharp. I think because of that the aesthetic, you have to keep that difference in mind, while shifting to see how it’s going to affect the piece and its effect on me.”
He shares moments of his artistic journey on Instagram as @skhewhok.
Khewhok’s abstract painting will be shown along with works of fellow artists new to Manoa Gallery: coastal themed abstract works by Jan Tetsutani, prints by Mary Philpotts McGrath and works by Anne Irons.
Other works in the fall exhibition are from artists of the Manoa Gallery ohana who have been contributing contemporary fine arts since the gallery’s opening in 2015. Works on display include Hawaiian landscape photographs by Richard Cooke III, glass vessels by Hugh Jenkins and Stephanie Ross, landscape paintings by Russell Lowrey, Hawaiian landscape paintings by Dennis Morton, calligraphic paintings by Lauren Okano, sky and landscape paintings by Gregory Pai, ceramic sculptures by Johnannette Rowley, wood pieces by Roy Tsumoto, digital prints by Stuart Yamanae, landscape paintings by Debbie Young and jewelry by Cora Yee and Babs Miyano-Young.
“NEW ARTISTS, NEW WORKS”
>> Where: Manoa Gallery, 2964 E. Manoa Road
>> When: Through October 31, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5-8 p.m. Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays
>> Cost: Free
>> Info: 383-7818, manoagallery.com