Kamea Hadar: How this Hawaiian artist painted a 12-story mural

Written by Sherry Liang, CNN

Honolulu, Hawaiian artist Kamea Hadar hasn’t counted how many murals he’s painted in his career – his best guess is at least 50 over the past decade.

He drew a portrait is bigger than life of former US president Barack Obama towards a Honolulu law firm and wrap a Lamborghini with vinyl of his floral art. Hadar recalled in a phone interview that he spent two months painting on an upside-down website when the owner of the Vintage Cave Café in Honolulu wanted him to paint his vaulted ceiling “like Michelangelo.” , Hadar recounted in a phone interview.

But in the four weeks between October and November, Hadar painted a 12-story building on the corner of South King and Pensacola Streets in Honolulu, for his most complex and largest project to the right of the square foot. (His tallest is 15 floors.)

155 feet tall and 60 feet wide, Hadar’s mural pays homage to “aloha’s ambassadors” – surfing champions Carissa Moore and Duke Kahanamoku, who have set records in their respective generations. their.

Moore made history in July as the first Women’s Olympic Windsurfing Champion, when surfing made its debut at the Olympics. Decades before Moore was born, Olympic swimmer Kahanamoku was nicknamed “father of modern surfing, “as he popularized the centuries-old Hawaiian sport around the world. This mural depicts two Hawaiian icons side by side in Hadar’s signature photo-realistic portrait – a combination of art style and street art.

Hadar said: “Hawaii is a special place, and the people here are full of ‘aloha’, which is love, that is friendliness. “Carissa and Duke are many aloha ambassadors, and they’ve spread that aloha around the world.” He added: “I try to do the same with my art. I think with positivity and aloha you can make the world a better place – a happier place. “

Kamea Hadar sits in front of a mural of Obama.

Kamea Hadar sits in front of a mural of Obama. Credit: Andrew Tran is polite

Ballet meets breakdance

Growing up in Hawaii, Hadar has been painting all his life. In his teens, Hadar traveled abroad to France, Spain and Israel to learn “traditional” fine arts backgrounds, he said. He apprenticed under a French impressionist painter in Paris and attended Tel Aviv University.

While practicing, Hadar said his friends back home are practicing other art forms like tattooing and graffiti.

“What I like to joke about is that while my friends were learning breakdance, I was dancing ballet,” says Hadar.

Kamea Hadar's painting of Carissa Moore and the Duke of Kahanamoku will be his largest and most complex to date.

Kamea Hadar’s painting of Carissa Moore and the Duke of Kahanamoku will be his largest and most complex to date. Credit: Andrew Tran is polite

In 2010, Hadar and his high school friend Jasper Wong founded Pow! OH!, a mural exhibition festival. The festival traveled to more than a dozen cities, created nearly a thousand murals, and greatly influenced the development of the Hadar visual style. The artists he works with have also taught him how to make his paintings bigger, he explains.

“This very traditional portrait painting, combined with the culture of graffiti street art has turned into large-scale murals of people,” says Hadar. “It’s the intersection of my world and the world of my high school peers.

Build a mural

Painting a tall building requires meticulous logistical planning, from considering the vantage points of passersby to learning how to safely hang the exterior of a 15-story building with chained stages. swing – the same infrastructure used by window washers.

Kamea Hadar scaled the buildings for weeks at a time to complete the multi-story high murals.

Kamea Hadar scaled the buildings for weeks at a time to complete the multi-story high murals. Credit: Andrew Tran is polite

Then there are the factors Hadar cannot control. He said painting the outside of the Hadar leaves “at the mercy of nature” – wind, humidity, heat, rain and shine can all affect the painting and rotation processes. While in Taipei in 2014, Hadar watched picture of the Taipei dreamNS “going down the drain” on a particularly wet day, he recalls.

Kamea says that physical effort and planning aside, tracking progress day by day is gratifying.

“It’s nice to feel tired at the end of a long day at work, but look at exactly what you’ve accomplished that day,” says Hadar. “It’s nice to have that tangible reward.”

As for his inspiration, Hadar says it can take many forms. Sometimes it’s a message, like a public service announcement about voter turnout. Other times, it was a person – like his two-story portrait of Obama, titled “Hapa” (the Hawaiian word for half, or mixed-race heritage), painted on a replica of Obama’s 2008 speech on racial equality.

Hadar also taps into his own personal experience – after becoming a father in the summer of 2016 (while painting a mural of Obama), he found himself drawn to projects depicting fatherhood.

Hadar said of her 5-year-old daughter: “She’s at an age now where she knows it’s Dad’s drawing. But he doesn’t think she understands the depth or scale of his murals.

10-story high mural by Kamea Hadar "Huli" describe a father and daughter.

The 10-story high mural “Huli” by Kamea Hadar depicts a father and daughter. Credit: Ryu Yamane is polite

A ‘sense of place’

Hawaii – as both a place and a source of inspiration – is ubiquitous on Hadar’s murals.

Hadar says a “sense of place” is important to indigenous cultures in Hawaii. For example, the land is traditionally divided by natural water boundaries into areas known as “ahupua’a.” Hadar studied these boundaries in his planning stages and received guidance from experts to respect the land and its history.

“I grew up all my life in Hawaii … but I’m not a native Hawaiian,” Hadar said. “When I’m exposed to a lot of these topics, I’m talking about ancient Hawaii, I’m talking about Hawaiian culture, using Hawaiian words. That’s all I’ve learned. I’ve tried. a lot to stay responsive to the Native Hawaiian community.”

According to Hadar, a mural in a building will last for five to 20 years before it fades away. In the meantime, he hopes his scale and theme of work can inspire people to “want to do whatever they want,” even if that means scaling a building. 15 floors.

Hadar said: “I think great art can come from love and aloha.


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