Social Encore: Bolioli is back in Hawaii
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
After leaving Hawaii in the early 1990s, artist Eduardo Bolioli now calls Hawaii home once again. He plans to get back into the local art scene and will host his first major art exhibition in more than 20 years on Thursday at Manifest. I spoke with him this week to learn more about his roller coaster ride back to Hawaii — and it wasn’t that easy.
» Where: Manifest, 32 N. Hotel St.
Bolioli’s love of art started when he was a kid, sketching on long train rides with his mother. He aspired to be a cartoonist and studied at the prestigious School of Visual Arts. Wanting to be closer to the ocean, Bolioli thought he could mesh his love of art and surfing by creating colorful art on surfboards.
He found his way to Hawaii during a surfing trip with friends and fell in love with the culture. He first made Hawaii home in 1985, inspired by the distinctive sights and sounds while using posca markers to create his art. Many pro surfers, including world champions Shaun Tomson and Sunny Garcia, had him create personalized surfboard art.
Bolioli later became art director for Local Motion and designed for surf brands like Quiksilver and Billabong. His work also caught the eyes of concert promoters, leading to gigs creating art for bands like UB40 and Aerosmith. Even VH1 liked his out-of-the-box style and commissioned him to create several designs and animations for the music channel.
When Absolut Vodka was looking for an artist to help launch their statehood Campaign in Hawaii, they turned to Bolioli. His artwork for Absolut appeared in various publications like Newsweek, Time Magazine and USA Today. His relationship with the Absolut brand flourished, and in 1993 they asked him if he would be wiling to move to Uruguay and create another campaign. He happily accepted and said he was so happy to move back to Uruguay, his home country. The same year he signed with San Francisco-based art firm PCI.
Bolioli said at that time, he felt like he was at the top of the world — but but it wold all slowly came crashing down.
When PCI closed without notice, they were accused of taking all of his art. And even though he was in his home country, Bolioli said finding inspiration was a bit challenging.
“I tried to do art when I was in Uruguay but it got to the point where I felt like the colors were gone,” he said. “I wasn’t as happy my painting were dark. I was miserable and it reflected in my art.”
Wanting to be happy again, he decided to leave his family behind and move back to Hawaii. He’s since set-up shop, gained over 10,000 followers on instagram and has found happiness. Next week, he’ll premiere four canvas pieces that are each 4 feet by 5 feet and will sell 25 limited edition prints of each piece.
“With this show, I wanted to do something that portrayed my life here,” he said.
His colorful pop art meets modern expression will bring you into a world of happiness with powerful messages to help the environment and love each other. He said one of the pieces while show “my ideas have ideas,” truly reflecting how one idea can help inspire many others. Another painting, “Eddie Would Love,” was inspired by the recent Paris attack.
“Eddie Aikau was known to break up big fights on the North Shore and he has been someone that I’ve always admired,” Bolioli said. “If we had more people like Eddie, we would be in a much better place and we would help restore peace in Paris.”
Finally feeling at home in Hawaii, he added it feels good to be doing what he loves once again. Art lives inside every person, Bolioli added, and he’s glad to be sharing it again.
“I’ve traveled a lot and I have never been to a place where I can reach this level of happiness … that is Hawaii has done to me,” he said.
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.