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Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 11:45 pm

PO‘IPU — Wandering through Galerie 103’s 1,600-square-foot main hall, visitors might wonder what thread connects haute couture gowns, abstract canvases, art furnishings, a ceramic installation and large-scale photographs.

These items are featured in “wHat,” an East Coast-meets-Kaua‘i exhibit featuring seven critically acclaimed artists from around the country. The opening reception is 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Galerie 103 at The Shops at Kukui‘ula in Po‘ipu.

“‘wHat’ will explore the identity and nature of many different manifestations of art, unique forms and their raison d’être as individual objects or as a sum of all of them,” said Bruna Stude, gallery owner and curator of the exhibit .

The Croatian-born photographer appreciates all art forms, which is evident in the exhibit of accomplished artists she is curating.

The exhibit features large-scale abstract paintings by Tom Lieber, art-couture gowns by New York artist Louda Larrain, photographs by prominent New York artist Gilles Larrain, a ceramic mixed-media installation by Roberta Griffith and sculptural chairs by Kaua‘i artist Doug Britt, Honolulu’s Christopher Reiner and Santa Fe’s Tom Emerson.

“It’s good to show artists who don’t live here or create here,” Stude said.

Like Stude herself, the pieces displayed in Galerie 103 exude a vital energy that proves Kaua‘i is part of a vibrant art culture.

The seeds of the exhibit were planted when Stude opened her gallery more than two years ago.

As visitors entered Stude’s spacious gallery with exposed piping and concrete floors, their eyes would fall upon a monkeypod bench in the center of the room.

“People would ask, ‘Is it art? Is it furniture? What is it?’” Stude said.

Then, when New York power couple Louda and Gilles Larrain wandered through Galerie 103, Stude knew she had to feature their work in an exhibit.

“They came to the gallery last year and we both connected,” said Stude.

Louda’s talent for creating delicate textile designs and intricate embroidery has led to collaborations with the industry’s most prestigious designers, including Christian Dior, Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Lacroix. The Russian couture designer’s one-of-a-kind creations are featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and two of Louda’s extravagant art-couture gowns will be on display as part of ‘wHat.’

In addition, handmade hats will be on display, including “Dry Season,” a hat made from dozens of dried, hand-woven fish.

To compliment Louda’s work, her partner, Gilles, will have three never-before-exhibited photographs from his new body of work, “Dark Angels,” on view.

“(‘Dark Angels’) is an ongoing project that found its seeds in childhood memories of role-playing superheroes mythology,” according to Gilles’ website. “The ‘Dark Angels’ series transformed slowly from a playful intuition to more complex constructions of enigmatic meanings, brining into play the representation of superheroes figures from pop culture to a vivid complex interaction of social, political and sexual associations that finally evolve into a psychic framing of an American mythology.”

Joining the works of the SoHo couple are three deftly executed 72-by-72-inch abstract canvases by Lieber.

Griffith’s mixed-media installation from a 2010 exhibit at the Kaua‘i Museum will also be featured in “wHat.” The installation, titled “Hung Out to Die 2010,” includes tulle bags filled with ceramic doll parts and baseballs. The bundles are metaphors of broken lives, broken toys and unfulfilled promises.

Reiner, Britt and Emerson add playfulness through their art furnishings — three chairs that vary in their function and meaning. Reiner’s chair is a “commentary on sociopolitical situation of the current global economy.” Emerson’s chair, “Void” is made from reclaimed metal and Britt’s “Escape from LA” chair is an outwardly playful piece.

Always eager to connect visitors with the artists, Stude will have Skype video conferences with Gilles and Louda from their Soho studio and Emerson from his Santa Fe, N.M., abode during Saturday’s opening reception.

“wHat” runs through Feb. 11. Collectors can look forward to browsing a selection of limited prints from Gilles, which will be for sale.

An art talk with Louda and Gilles will be held in January and February at the gallery. Visit www.gallerie103.com for more details.

© 2016 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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