Press Queries: Call or text 808-282-2743, email Mark@MarkChaiArts.com
“Since the early 1990s, the Hawaiian-Chinese UH Mānoa art school graduate has been creating sculptures and lamps from wood as well as recycled cardboard, x-ray film boxes and other discarded materials …
“I think my sense of craftsmanship may have developed when I was really young and we were living in Japan. We were in a military housing complex and I was watching these Japanese craftsmen. They didn’t use any nails to put this fence together. They cut and chiseled everything and it all fit together.
“I really liked curves and spheres. One of the people who really helped shape my thinking was Buckminster Fuller. It was so cool he built these giant domes. I actually … met him at the Hilton Hawaiian dome, which he had designed.
“One of the pieces that really caught my imagination was this piece that Picasso did of a bull. He took a bicycle seat and the handlebars and he made this bull’s head. Something so simple but brilliant. I started thinking in those terms, looking at things that were designed for one purpose yet you could see something else.”
“Contemporary Hawaiian artist Mark Chai is inspired by many of the same plants that O’Keeffe encountered while visiting Hawai‘i. His monumental sculpture inspired by heliconia is accompanied by a series of lanterns based on the fruits of many of the most important canoe plants, such as breadfruit (‘ulu), candlenut (kukui), screw-pine (hala), and mountain apple (ohi’a ‘ai). At night, these shapes come to life with dramatic lighting.” VIDEO
“Heliconia Loop contains the precision-driven presentation of Chai’s best work. On O‘ahu, that includes a sculpture made from recycled materials at Disney’s Aulani resort and dazzling lighting at hipster hotel the Surfjack. All radiate a wild imagination and the workmanship of a master craftsman. But the art of Chai is his soul: To assist the Aloha Medical Mission to Nepal in 2015, he created handcut luminaries to help fund medical supplies for volunteers.”
“Custom lighting by artist Mark Chai is one of the featured remodeling elements …”
Honolulu Museum of Art – Mark Chai, Lamps and Light Pods, made from recycled plastic and wood.
To call him a lamp designer would minimize his artistry. Mark Chai is a sculptor and many of his works produce light. The physical shapes of his structures are organic and sensual. His distillation of light adds emotion; the projections from his lamps create new images and forms. Chai’s PechaKucha focused on his process, from the mathematical and structural function to the whimsy of invention and experimentation. He was born in Hawai’i; the organics of the islands are his greatest influence and well evidenced in his work.
Ed Kenney’s fourth restaurant, Mahina & Sun’s, is located at the Suarfjack Hotel and Swim Club on Lewers Street and features wooden orb lamps by local artist Mark Chai.
“As a staff member eagerly explains the hotel’s laundry list of amenities, I take a moment to admire the chic, beach vibe. The handmade wallpaper by Andrew Mau especially catches my eye as it reflects the playful attitude of the hotel. There is also a living fern installation by Paiko Hawaii, painted works by hand-lettering artist Matthew Tapia, and awesome wood-carved lights by local artist Mark Chai in the restaurant located on the side of the pool.”
Wallpaper Honolulu City Guide, Phaidon Press, 2009
House Beautiful magazine, “Lanterns,” February 2007
MTV, “Real World,” January – June 1999
Home magazine, September 1994
Hawaii Business magazine, When A Creative Passion Becomes Your Career