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Forest Eater

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Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Darren Waterston: FOREST EATER
at The Honolulu Contemporary Art Museum
May 26-August 28, 2011

“Forest Eater,” conceived specifically for the HCAM, 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. Nocturnal scenes of volcanic activity, ashen environments, and ghostly mountain forms cast a menacing shadow on the Big Island of Hawaii, where according to legend, Pele resides in Mount Kilauea. The paintings make reference to Hawaii’s specific geography and also explore the bodily manifestations of Pele as described in the poetic classification of certain volcanic formations such as Pele’s Hair and Pele’s Tears.

“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.


Darren Waterston

Darren Waterston graduated with a BFA from the Otis Art Institute in 1988, having previously studied at the Akademie der Künste and the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, both in Germany. His exhibition Peacock Room REMIX: Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre is currently on view at The Smithsonian Institution’s Freer/Sackler Galleries through June 2017.

Darren Waterston has been exhibiting his paintings, works on paper, and installations in the U.S. and abroad since the early 1990s. Recent exhibition highlights include: Forest Eater at The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu (2011); Splendid Grief: The Afterlife of Leland Stanford Jr. (2009), an installation at The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, CA; and The Flowering (The Fourfold Sense) (2007), at the Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art, Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR.

In 2007 CHARTA published a monograph on the artist, “Darren Waterston: Representing the Invisible”, and in 2013 Prestel published a collaboration between the artist and poet Mark Doty, “A Swarm, A Flock, a Host: A Compendium of Creatures.” “Darren Waterston: Filthy Lucre,” was published by Skira Rizzoli in association with MASS MoCA and the Freer/Sackler in 2014.

Waterston’s paintings are included in numerous permanent collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; New York Public Library, New York City; The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Waterston lives and works in New York City.


Darren Waterston in Conversation with Susan Cross, Curator of Visual Arts at MASS MoCA

April 19th, 2018

Darren Waterston and Mark Doty: Gallery Talk and Book Signing

April 6, 2013 at DC Moore Gallery

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