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Maui Art: Artists & Art Galleries in Paradise

Kit Gentry

Artist's Statement

Iao Valley

Most of my pictures are focused on landscape or other natural elements. Landscape has always reflected the themes of greatest interest for me: the vastness of the geological ages, the sheer power of natural forces, and the overwhelming mystery behind the very existence of the material world. Nature is beautiful, but it's also powerful - even destructively, dangerously so - and I'm not interested in presenting nature as any more benign than it really is.

As an example, my pictures of mountain streams and cascades recognize the visual appeal of rushing water, but also call attention to its potentially devastating strength. I've depicted many of my waterfall subjects under weather conditions that are grim and stormy to further enhance their sense of menacing power, in balance with the sheer beauty of their falling water.

I've found that the most interesting subjects are those that embody such conflicting qualities in unexpected balance with each another. Subjects of this sort can be both wonderful and terrible all at once, covering the entire spectrum of experience in a single moment.

The Banshee

I search for subjects that display this duality of positives and negatives because they seem to reflect the complex reality of the world, in which beautiful things and terrible things coexist on a daily basis. I could make an effort to sweeten my pictures considerably - but this, I feel, would deprive my subjects of a great deal of their emotional depth and render them less life-like. This attempt to capture the multi-faceted nature of life is probably the most distinctive characteristic of my work, hopefully communicating something deeper and more enduring than outward appearances alone.

In all of my work, I prefer to practice disciplined realism from an observation of nature, because I feel that the true grandeur of life is best perceived through nature itself. I have yet to see any product of human invention to rival the subtle beauty in the light and color that bounce to our eyes from the surface of even the most mundane object - as a result, I've felt very little impulse toward anything other than a direct study and representation of life in my work. My pictures are often meant to stir the imagination, but in a way that renews our fascination for the awe-inspiring qualities of the actual world around us, so my subjects are always very real.

Since my paintings strive to capture their subjects quite faithfully, the imaginative elements of my work occur primarily behind the scenes, especially in regard to my selection of subject matter, which is often rather far removed from what is typically recognized as "Hawaiiana" imagery. Although the coastal areas of Hawaii are famous for their tropical climate and bright sunshine, and do occasionally receive my attention, I gravitate more often toward the cooler and cloudier environment of East Maui's mountainous interior, a landscape compatible with my own sensibility for the more mystifying aspects of the natural world. Clouds often encircle the mountain by day, darkening the land and embracing the hills, fields and forests in a dense, swirling fog. It's a place where one commonly encounters the types of natural elements that are characteristically suggestive of old folktale settings - dark forests; frequent mist and fog; starry skies of impossible brilliance; cold, stormy nights when the wind roars in the trees - all of which conspire to grace the mountain with an undeniably moody charm. Inspired by these settings, many of my choices in subject matter reflect my interest in folklore and its traditional preoccupation with all things mysterious.