FIJI TIMES ONLINE NEWS
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
HIS paintings have been exhibited locally and bought by collectors the world over but for the first time, Josua Toganivalu will be travelling with his paintings to a foreign country. The Bauan man is one of the Pacific artists that will exhibit their artwork at New Zealands Oedipus Rex Gallery in Auckland early next month. “I cant explain the feeling, its just so overwhelming but I am humbled to take my art onto the international stage,” Josua says. Prior to this, his paintings were bought by collectors from Hawaii, Australia, London and the US.
“This is the first time for me to travel with my painting anywhere but some of my pieces have travelled further than I ever did,” he says. Josua is one of the original Red Wave artists pioneering artists at the University of the South Pacifics Oceania Arts Centre, under tutelage of the late Doctor Epeli Haufa. Titled Pacific Voices, the exhibition will feature another Fijian painter Irami Buli and one Tongan artist. And for his international exhibition, Josua will reveal a huge oil on canvas painting called Rukuni Matanisiga which he describes as a painting that portrays positive things about Fiji.
“If you look at the images on the painting, they display all aspects of Fijian life and instead of me talking about my painting, I want the painting to speak for itself,” he says.
Josua will leave the country today for the land of the long white cloud. He will work on another four paintings which will be smaller than his Rukuni Matanisiga piece. He will also work with John Pule, a close friend, mentor and fellow painter.
“These will be four individual pieces which will be inspired by tapa (masi) designs and where I will add my own motifs to tell my own story, he says.
Josua’s close association with Pule started in 1998 when Pule came to Fiji to hold oil painting workshops for the Red Wave artists. This workshop only furthered Josuas passion for painting. So much so that Josua took leave from his job in 2000 to attend Pules first solo exhibition in New Zealand. His full-time job had interfered with his paintings to some extent that be became sort of a late bloomer from all the Red Wave artists that emerged from USP in the late 1990s. Other painters from the same wave like Rusiate Lali and Richard Bell have continued with their painting and scored solo exhibitions. They are now well-known in Australasian art circles.
But Josua started well in the 1990s when he received commission to paint murals for a resort in the Yasawas which could have set him on his way. But Josua delved into other creative works like graphics and desktop publishing where he worked in Fijis print media industry for 10 years before deciding to return to the canvas.
“I have been painting for a long time, even when I was working as a full-time graphic artist. I kept painting on the side but the demands of work kept me away for a long time. So it was not until last year that Josua finally quit his work to concentrate on becoming a full-time painter and get back into the fold at USP. He is finally fulfilling a passion that was fired from such a young age. I’ve always enjoyed painting – the feeling of expressing my thoughts and telling stories on the canvas. That freedom of expression – nothing beats painting – that is why I came back to something I enjoy and am comfortable with,” he says.
These creative and artistic skills are a god-given talent. I would also like to thank USP and the Oceania Centre for providing studio space for me and fellow artists to make use of those creative and artistic skills. To all those people who have supported me and bought a piece of my work during the past 14 years of my painting career, thank you very much for your support, and last but not least to my family who inspire me to paint every day. In the meantime, Josua says hell continue to do what he does best paint.
IRAMI BULI, JOSUA TOGANIVALU, GLEN WOLFGRAMM
3 July – 21 July 2012
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