Work: Kone Fitu
Size: 1720mm x 530mm x 530mm (Each)
Raised in the small village of Poutasi, Western Samoa, Fatu Feu’u was exposed to a range of traditional art forms. Complemented by careers in colour and textile design following his move to New Zealand during the 1960s, Feu’u's practice has grown to convey the importance of the art of Pasifika expressed within a contemporary, fine art context.
Stretching across a variety of media including painting, lithographs, woodcuts, glass, bronze, wood and stone sculptures, Feu’u’s oeuvre is unified by signature motifs drawn from various Polynesian sources as evidenced in Kone Fitu. Over one and a half metres in height, the sculpture consists of seven carved macrocarpa wood totems. Each element is incised with symbols that reference ancient motifs found on tapa and tatau, Lapita pottery and even the analytic cubism of Picasso. Hugely influenced by African and Oceanic art, Picasso’s rejection of naturalistic imagery in favour of geometric, multi-faceted shapes and angles, impressed Feu’u. An amalgam of graphic, stylized patterns, the sculpture’s incisions convey Feu’u’s love of balance, symmetry and repetition.
However, Feu’u’s work encompasses more than the pictorial elements of Pacific and Samoan art by promoting the underlying significance of fa’asamoa. Generally defined as ‘the Samoan way,’ fa’asamoa promotes the religious and cultural values of respect, reverence and love. The artist believes ‘…fa’asamoa is very much alive and valid in everyday life. To me, art is not just about painting or sculpting. Art is a part of everything we do…something we do with respect.’ Fa’asamoa is fundamental to Feu’u’s practice. As Founder/Patron of the Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust, he hopes that ‘…one day Pacific Island art will be well recognized by the Western world for its spiritual value, its meaning to the Pacific people and as a worthwhile contribution to this country, New Zealand.’