Stunning Melanesian Aesthetic Energized with Powerful Modernist Expression… Rusiate Lali is a man of his times. Coming from a long lineage of potters, carvers, tapa cloth and fibre artists, Rusiate is one of the most exciting and provocative artists to exhibit at Gallery Gondwana. Back in 1999 when he was named 'Contemporary Fijian Artist of the Year' - his work was a sensuous mix of past and present, myth and reality. With a number of solo and group exhibitions under his belt, and a body of work that continues to grow, evolve and surprise, every new exhibition is eagerly anticipated… and so we look forward to his London Exhibition in September 2017…
DOB: 15 April 1976
Place of Birth: Fiji
Significant Country: Rewa, Fiji
Rusiate is one of the most exciting and provocative artists to exhibit at Gallery Gondwana, coming from a long lineage of potters, carvers, tapa cloth and fibre artists. In 1999 he was named ‘Contemporary Fijian Artist of the Year’ - his work being a sensuous mix of past and present, myth and reality. With both solo and group exhibitions here in Australia and overseas, including his home country Fiji, his work continues to grow, evolve and surprise.
To date, much of his work has explored his personal experiences and his universal awareness of social issues. His imagery treads the political landscape and issues of the times. His art straddles the divide between the traditional aesthetics and mythology of his indigenous heritage and the hard reality of the modern world. All this is handled with intelligence and sensitivity.
His ideas are nourished from his direct family who have had gifted him with a strong cultural identity from their contributions as Fijian artistic icons. Add to this his influences from a modernist tradition and you have an energetic body of work grounded in ancestral history.
Roslyn Premont, Director of Gallery Gondwana comments:
Rusiate lives in two worlds, that of his traditional Melanesian culture and that outside it. His work reflects the complexity of the interplay between these two in ways that are provocative and inspiring.
A man of two worlds… having lived between Fiji and Australia, both in Sydney and Alice Springs and now residing back in Fiji, Rusiate is a multi-media artist with a strong connection to both his ancestral past and popular contemporary culture, adding film, music, dance, writing and storytelling, in addition to his body of paintings. With a foot planted both firmly in the Melanesian art founded on traditional myths, legends and lifestyle, and a foot in the modernist world of climate change and social unrest, many of his works are an expression of events unfolding at the time.
His artwork often references the traditional tapa textile and design with its use of geometric patterns, shapes and lines, with a modern twist. His body of work includes many outstanding singular pieces, as well as encompassing collections and series, such as his minimalist and meditative In Between Hieroglyphics and Stamps of Consciousness series to the more complex individual colourful works such as Reflection and Takeinivula. With many of his artwork refers to his ancestral stories, others appear as an assembling of snippets of personal memorabilia and newspaper cuttings, his day-to-day experience, captured on canvas and overlayed with paint and laquer. All pay homage to the tapa textile and design use of geometric patterns, shapes and lines.
Some of the works resemble story boards or comic strips with the images broken up and reassembled in a collage mixing past and present.
Rusiate Lali - Tribal Revival
Tribal Revival - A challenging world view.
There is no stopping Rusiate as he keeps on adding to his prodigious body of work. With images that are at once stunningly beautiful and powerfully political he walks a highly individual line encouraging indigenous people to celebrate their cultural heritage and defend its uniqueness from the dehumanizing pressures of global influence.
September 2017 saw his artwork in the opening exhibition for a politically charged topic of ‘Climate Change in The Pacific’ in London.
From his early years as a founding member with The Red Wave Collective at the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture at the University of the South Pacific, then named Fiji ‘Contemporary Artist of the Year’ in 1998, Rusiate continues to be increasingly recognised. His commercial career was launched with a solo show in Fiji organized by the Alliance Française in 1999. Inspired by the transformational energy of water, Rusiate explored traditional tribal totems referencing water spirits and creatures found in the region such as turtles, sharks and fish. The show was a sellout, with many works going to international collectors in New York and Paris.
It was at the Biennial in New Caledonia in November 2000, that the Director of Gallery Gondwana, Roslyn Premont, met Rusiate at the Festival of Pacific Arts. Over a conversation whilst admiring Dorothy Napangardi’s work (representing Australia), Rusiate invited her to his exhibition at the FOL, Noumea.
Impressed by his paintings, Roslyn invited Rusiate to come to Australia as guest of Gallery Gondwana. He arrived in Australia in April 2001 where he was to meet and paint alongside Dorothy Napangardi and other key Gallery Gondwana key artists. He was also invited on ‘outback bush’ trips that Gallery Gondwana facilitated as inspiration for artists to return back to their traditional country.
Rusiate first exhibition with Gallery Gondwana was his ‘Transition of Time - Story of Takeinivula’, followed by a number of other solo shows, numerous collaborative exhibitions and prestigious art fairs. He also continued to exhibit in Fiji and was the winner of the 2007 Art Prize celebrating 20 years of Alliance Francaise in Suva for his beautiful work ‘Roots finding water’.
His step into the high end fashion world was London in 2016 where his experimental pieces adorned the catwalk models, then the Spring/Summer fashion show in Alice Springs the same year, saw his paintings transformed into wearable art and fashion.
All Text & Images © 1990-2017 Gallery Gondwana
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