Fatu Feu’u is an internationally renowned artist – acknowledged as both a leader and mentor within the Pasifika arts community. He has been pivotal in shaping the interest in contemporary Pacific art globally and nurturing a generation of Pacific artists locally. In October 2022 Feu’u was awarded the Senior Pacific Artist Award by Creative New Zealand, for his outstanding contribution to art and his role as a leader within the Pacific arts community.
Feu’u grew up in the village of Poutasi, in Western Samoa, immigrating to New Zealand in 1966. Since becoming a full-time artist in 1988, his paintings, woodcut prints, bronze and wooden sculptures are now held in public and private collections around the world. He was the first artist of Pacific heritage awarded the James Wallace Art Award (1995) and the New Zealand Order of Merit for his “Achievements in Art” (2001).
Feu’u gains inspiration from Polynesian art forms, such as siapo (bark/tapa cloth), tatau (tattooing), weaving, carving and ceremonial mask making. His works frequently blend traditional and contemporary elements, incorporating a range of influences, inspirations, techniques and motifs from Samoa and Aotearoa and more generally from Euro-American to Pacific cultures. Feu’u’s distinctive style sees him recognised as one of Aotearoa’s leading Pacific artists.
This year Feu’u has once again joined forces with the international company, Specsavers, as Patron for the Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand. Limited edition frames (which have imagery from a painting included in his new series, Protection of the Pacific Ocean) will be available in Specsavers’ stores nationwide from November 2022. A donation from each frame that is sold, will enable someone blinded by cataracts to have sight.
Fa’asamoa is the unifying element of Feu’u’s work. The term fa’asamoa is generally defined as “the Samoan way”. The social structure of Samoan society is held together (and actively maintained) by an adherence to unwritten, but understood cultural conventions.