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Fatu Feu'u "The Village"

Exhibition Dates: 21 Sep, 2015 - 11 Oct, 2015 The traditional saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is becoming a fundamental tenet among educators, so ...

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Exhibition Dates: 21 Sep, 2015 – 11 Oct, 2015

The traditional saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is becoming a fundamental tenet among educators, social administrators and elders working with children and teenagers throughout the world.The significance of this basic belief has never been more apparent with the pressures and changes now faced by parents, communities and children in today’s global “social media” village.

While Feu’u has exhibited a vast body of powerful work over a 35 year period this “Village” series has probably never been more relevant. Feu’u states…”Art is very powerful to bring awareness to the community. I can’t influence Wall Street in New York but I can influence my community”.  Traditional mark making and design elements are fundamentals utilized in the creation of this new series of oils on canvas.  Some are abstracted designs and imagery while others refer to almost naive or basic cut out shapes depicting children at play or dancing. Similar imagery depicting recreational activity and play appear on ancient pottery, cave walls, monuments and other objects from ancient civilizations dating back 40,000 years.Rarely in NZ has this type of traditional mark making been explored to any significant degree or in a meaningful way.

1950’s Rebel Rousers such as Rex Fairburn, Theo Schoon and Denis Knight Turner produced curtain fabric and paintings with Melanesian rock and cave imagery however this was a fashionable design movement at the time, rather than a significant body of remarkable work.While the message in this latest exhibition is a universal one which Feu’u wishes to convey, the genesis of these paintings originated from the aftermath of the devastating tsunami which levelled his village of Poutasi in 2009.Feu’u says – “I wish to reiterate and highlight the importance of my Fa’asamoa” and the understanding of the importance of our cultural ties which bind us as a people – which keep us as a village together. Every civilization or every tribal people have their own art, whether its small-time artists doing small things like scratching on the rock or paintings that are powerful things and can strike the chords of the heart.  They are trying to relate to their community…”The title of the works pinpoint components which create a village such as crop and food production (“Kumara Patch”, “Think of a Garden”), building “Excavation”, the importance of family, raising children (“Lolita, Come Dance”, “Lolita, Come Play”) and planning for the future.

This exhibition is a departure somewhat from previous shows mounted by Feu’u however the original design and painterly qualities of these new works add another string to this artist’s very long bow.

Text by Warwick Henderson Gallery Sept 2015

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