The Location
of Up and Down

Kainoa Gruspe

July 13 –
September 1, 2024

opening: July 13, 6pm

Aupuni Space is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Kainoa Gruspe, his fourth with the gallery.

The Location of Up and Down represents a series of new works, open-ended musings, and reflections on inherited value systems and established sources of knowledge. While varied in subject matter and approach to materials, this group of paintings revolves around a central device of verticality as related to values.

‘up’: wispy, related to aspirations, unattainable truths, the end goal, beyond, Icarus, Wākea, sweet Chariot, acting against gravity, against oppression, against static quality, searching (innocent like looking at space through a telescope or sinister like Captain Cook), searching (innocent like bug antennae or destructive like The Telescope), where the dust scatters.

‘down’: heavy, the weight of history, solid accessible dirt, the starting point, the known, the comfort in the reality of a rock or the threat of sinking, a stagnant understanding to escape from, the high value of reliability or the low value of being beneath, where a body wants to be after a honest day’s work, where the dust settles.

Different ideas related to values, certainty, and possibility of knowing are explored within individual paintings. In one case, a decaying cement structure leans forward, perhaps pointing to the future while Locals© slippers stand below, watching. In another, the highest point of the mountain fades away into an uncertain quantum field, while rocks used to make the paint are tied to the bottom of the painting, solid and captured. The paintings are made with a range of found and natural materials on a semi-transparent fabric and some are double-sided, lending themselves physically to the open-endedness of the narratives within the work.

Kainoa Grupse's practice comes from painting but has been branching out to include different modes of making, including woodworking, sewing and embroidery, and hat making. What he is looking for in his work is a sense of real life, an exploration of how that has been understood. Gruspe is from Mānoa, Oʻahu. He received a BFA from University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 2017 and an MFA from the Slade School of Art in London in 2022.