Monday, October 24, 2011
Royal Hawaiian displays final painting by Herb Kane
By Nina Wu, Honolulu Star Advertiser
Herb Kane's final painting hangs near the entrance to the Monarch Room in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
Herb Kane's last painting, "Kamehameha Landing," now graces the wall by the entrance to the Monarch Room at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
It was the last painting the artist-historian was working on before he died March 8. It remains incomplete and unsigned, though someone with an untrained eye might not notice.
The 5-foot-tall, 10-foot-wide oil on canvas depicts King Kamehameha I and his warriors in canoes preparing to land on the shores of Waikiki in great detail.
Commissioned by Kyo-Ya Hotels and Resorts, "Kamehameha Landing" will be officially unveiled Friday with a private Hawaiian blessing by the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation.
Kane is also being honored by the foundation as the 2011 Kamaaina of the Year with a benefit dinner on Saturday in the Monarch Room.
"One of the marks of his greatness was his attention to culturally accurate detail, including the color of the water, the rigging and cordage on the canoes and the angle and slope of surf," said cultural consultant Peter Apo, his friend of more than 30 years. "Most people would just sort of draw waves, but if you're a surfer and you saw the waves, you would say, ‘I know where that is. That's the Waikiki swell.'"
Several years ago, Kane had already made a sketch of the scene but had not yet gotten to the full color painting, which he had always wanted to do.
As Kyo-ya was renovating the Royal Hawaiian, the company wanted a new piece of art for the hotel. Apo connected Kane with architect Rob Iopa.
Kane worked on the painting for about seven to eight months in his studio at Kealakekua Bay before he died.
"He fully expected to finish it," Apo said.
He also intended for it to be his last painting of that scale because his eyesight was deteriorating and he could paint only during the day.
After his death, Kyo-ya had the painting framed and transported to Oahu, according to Iopa, and decided it was best to leave the painting as is, with Kane's final touches rather than having someone else complete it.
King Kamehameha I's Waikiki landing in 1795 was a pivotal point in the history of Hawaii, Apo said, given that he would go on to conquer Oahu and unite the Hawaiian islands.
Some 2,000 war canoes stretched from Ala Moana Beach Park to Kahala, according to some accounts, he said.
"It's a beautiful depiction of a landing and preparing for battle," said Iopa. "Probably what stands out more than the painting itself was the knowledge behind what was being painted. It really celebrates a great man and what we believe to be a great piece."