THE ART OF TIKI: No False Idols


No False Idols

The Art of Tiki, was a two-part exhibition held by the world’s preeminent art purveyor and epicenter of the celebrated low-brow art movement, La Luz de Jesus Gallery.

The dual show, The Art of Tiki premiered in Los Angeles, California, on October 6th, 2017.

To memorialize the show, a new tome by the principal chronicler of the Tiki movement, Sven Kirsten, author of legendary books such as, The Book of Tiki, Tiki Modern and Tiki Pop was published. The Art of Tiki, specifically addressed the content of this gallery show, utilizing its subject for a fascinating perspective on the mid-century faux-Polynesia movement.

Back in 1996, La Luz de Jesus Gallery hosted the first themed show of its kind, gathering new voices in the low-brow art world to offer a collective artistic interpretation of the original, mid-century Polynesian pop period. The Art of Tiki exhibition effectively ushered in the postmodern Tiki era, introducing newly themed Tiki art by such luminary artists as Mark Ryden, SHAG, Mitch O’Connell and Gary Baseman. Since that debut 21 years ago, the contemporary Tiki movement has flowered into virtual crusade of escapism. Art, music, gastronomy and even whole Tiki-conventions offer worldwide, year-round opportunities to revel in our grandpa’s version of urban escapism; an expression of recreational diversion, which radiates still since its flashpoint of leisure following the epic conflict of World War II.

The exhibition itself consisted of two separate, yet related sections. The first observed the present and the second celebrated the past. Together for the first time, the public had access to both contemporary artistic interpretations of the Tiki art form and vintage Tiki originals from which the modern movement sprang.

The Art of Tiki-the 21st Anniversary show, curated again by Tiki impresario Otto von Stroheim, offered a reunion of many of its original artists, as well as a gathering of new disciples in a collective showcase. Works of art celebrating this colorful genre were featured in all manner of mixed media presentations.

The Art of Tiki- No False Idols portion of the exhibition featured the world’s first and most comprehensive public offering of original, mid-century Tiki décor direct from the archives of collector, Jordan Reichek. Commercial carvings, fixtures, furniture and lighting were on offer from some of the most famous and obscure Tiki temples hailing from the mid-century era. Famed establishments as Trader Vic’s, Kona Kai and Kon Tiki will be represented as well as renowned artists such as Leroy Schmaltz, Barney West, William Westenhaver, Jim Casey, Milan Guanko, Richard Ellis and Andres Bumatay. This assemblage of vintage commercial art was unprecedented. The rarity of such ephemeral “survivor” specimens is a testament to the short life and sad death of the original Tiki era.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the public to experience all the ‘World of Tiki’ has to offer was an overwhelming success and has now taken on legendary status as an innovative presentation and sale.