Honolulu Museum of Art - Beyond the Museum

New Chinatown gallery features work by Michelangelo Pistoletto


In March, two days before the Honolulu Biennial opened, two art-world veterans, one based in Jackson, Wyoming, the other in Lugano, Switzerland, joined forces to open the Ravizza Brownfield Gallery in Chinatown. It’s a first for Honolulu—the white-walled space (that was formerly part of the shuttered Fresh Café)  “aims to create a cultural presence to promote European art in Hawai‘i.” And its opening show features work by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, hailed as a founder of Arte Povera and as a forefather of interactive art. If you don’t get to travel to the world’s art capitals much, this is a rare chance for you to experience Pistoletto’s work, which is on view through May 31.

Allegra Ravizza, who runs an eponymous gallery in Lugano, and Shari Brownfield, an art consultant, find that Hawai‘i “has a creative energy that we are inspired by,” Brownfield told Pacific Business News, and they are “excited to create something unique for the community.”

That unique something means inviting artists to create work inspired by Hawai‘i, or, in the case of Pistoletto, update existing work to be site specific.

On view at Tate Liverpool is Pistoletto’s 1974 Venere degli stracci (Venus of the Rags), a classical statue of the Roman goddess of love wedged into a mountain of second-hand clothes. At the heart of the Ravizza Brownfield show is a related work—Untitled (Metamorphosis), 1976. This time the pile of Goodwill-ready clothing is divided in half by a double mirror. On one half the clothing is white, on the other multicolored. What you see changes as you circle the mound.

Also on view is the 2002 work Love Difference. Originally created to foster peaceful dialogue between Mediterranean countries, the installation has been recreated for Ravizza Brownfield Gallery with languages of the people who make up contemporary Hawai‘i’s population.

Standing in front of Pistoletto’s “Terzo Paradiso,” which is available for purchase as a temporary tattoo, Keliiokalani Makua (who was featured in our exhibition “Tattoo Honolulu,”) blessed the gallery on its opening night in March.

Likewise, Pistoletto updated his 2003 work Terzo Paradiso, using the mathematical sign for infinity, with Hawai‘i references. The gallery has created a limited-edition temporary tattoo of the work.

The gallery brings an exciting new element to Honolulu’s art landscape.

Ravizza Brownfield Gallery: 1109 Nu‘uanu Ave. at Hotel Street, 724-6877, Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–5pm