Duncan Dempster: Living in Honolulu, 2pm

Apr 18, 2019

Printmaker Duncan Dempster's new show, "New Ways of Living," continues at the Honolulu Museum of Art First Hawaiian Center through June 14, 2019.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

Creativity is the number one soft skill sought by employers, according to LinkedIn.  Beginning today, HPR’s Noe Tanigawa looks at two artists who approach creativity in different ways – starting with artist and educator Duncan Dempster.

Dempster's new work features 4-color screen printing on birch and douglas fir, collaged, and framed in cedar.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

“New Ways of Living,” prints on wood by Duncan Dempster continues at the Honolulu Museum First Hawaiian Center through June 14.  The live audio/visual collaboration happens tomorrow, Friday, 5pm at the Honolulu Biennial Hub at Ward Center.

Born and raised in Honolulu, Duncan Dempster, has been printing and teaching here for 19 years.  Dempster has been Executive Director of Honolulu Printmakers since 2013.  Now he’s conflated his two worlds, print studio and home, by combining printing with materials and processes he’s employed in home repairs.    Three dimensional squares and rhomboids dot the walls in Dempster’s show at the Honolulu Museum First Hawaiian Center.   The faceted images inside, clouds, fragments, walls, make you feel like you’re looking into apartment windows.

Credit Noe Tanigawa

Dempster:  I guess I’m trying to resurrect things I’ve experienced in the past.  I think those pieces are somewhat trying to reach back and articulate buildings I’ve been in, homes I’ve been in, particular times. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s.

Printmakers are notoriously persnickety, printing requires technicians.  Dempster, a long time etcher, admits he used to privilege the plate—the purity of the pressed image.  Even collage, was kind of  cheating.

Dempster:  The other part of this is me coming to terms with the fact that I don’t like paper.

At least for screen printing.  Believe me, printmakers usually revere paper.  But Dempster realized he likes the edges and the versatility of screen printing on wood.  He employs the standard 4 colors any newspaper would use, and revels in those highly 20th century halftone dots that digital is so proud of getting away from---printed on birch and Douglas fir.

Emily McIlroy. The Lilies How They Grow. Oil and pastel on paper. Works by Emily MacIlroy and works made of wood in conjunction with the Hawai'i Forest Industry Association are also on view at HoMA/FHC.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

Dempster:  I guess I like things to look manufactured but be made by hand.  Faking the manufactured, hand-made manufactured.  The palette, cyan, magenta, yellow and black – it’s a limited palette and materials, I just like how they set each other off and create kind of an architecture and cityscape.

People often equate creativity with free expression.

Dempster:  I don’t think I’m doing what I feel.  My work is not that spontaneous, that’s not how I’m working.  It’s very kind of methodical and procedural.  That produces feelings in me, for sure.

Many artists make discoveries through working with materials.

Dempster:  I like just the labor of making my work.  I really think we create meaning after our work, it’s not front loaded in the process. So in a way it’s a slightly inverted process of creating meaning, but it’s definitely there. 

Dempster has also been working in audio for years, and will join forces with Drowning Dreamers and manga artist Brady Evans for a live music and illustration performance for the Honolulu Biennial.

Though he taught screen printing for years, Dempster did not use it for his own work until he began screening onto wood.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

Drowning Dreamers Band, Brady Evans, and smallerclusters/Duncan Dempster, present a live  visual and aural performance, combining ethereal and contemplative sounds with projected illustrations.

Friday, April 19, 2019    
The Hub (Old Famous Footwear) Ward Center