pan-o-vision // Samuel Tupou

pan-o-vision v.3 | Samuel Tupou
silkscreen on high densitiy PVC 40cm round | 2012

Samuel Tupou is an undercover brotha. I consider my s̶t̶a̶l̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ research skills to be top notch when it comes to Pacific artists, exhibitions etc., so I was rather surprised to come across this article in the Brisbane News magazine about his exhibition in my own city!

I hadn’t heard about the exhibition via my normal sources (emails, Facebook, Twitter, blogs), so I’m rather happy that I did get to read the Brisbane News that someone left in my lunch room at work.

I had a twitter discussion with Ema Tavola back in February about Samuel Tupou and she did say that, while he was well known in Australia and the international art scene – he was rather low key within the Pacific art community.

I first came across Tupou’s work by chance. In 2007 I was on a bus that went pass the Jan Manton Art Gallery in South Brisbane. From the bus I could see glimpses of artwork in the gallery and I thought to myself…that looks like Pacific art. I made an effort later that week to go back and check it out and I’m glad I did.

Samuel Tupou is a Cairns based artist with a specialty in screenprinting. Born in New Zealand and of Tongan heritage, Tupou’s family moved to the Northern Territory when he was five.

The works in the pan-o-vision exhibition were made whilst Tuopu was on a 12 month residency in Wellington (New Zealand), which he felt was a time to get fresh prespective after living and working in Cairns for 12 years.

He says, “Although I often returned to visit family in New Zealand, the country remains for me a place of both identity and intrigue”. This would be the same for the many Pacific Islanders who live in Australia that are twice removed from their traditional fonua/whenua /vanua/fenua (land which one identifies with) – having come to Australia via New Zealand. So for many, New Zealand links them to their Pacific heritage.

Tupou’s urban environment and Pacific heritage influences his work with the use of geometric lines and repetitive patterns with animal and plant motifs which pay homage to Tongan tapa, mixed in with street art and pop cultural symbolism.

“Tupou’s practice reflects contemporary dilemmas of cultural identity, Westernization and immigration. Through the re-invention and repetition of found imagery from Western popular culture, and the use of industrial materials, Tupou creates new narratives which portray both personal and shared histories.” ~ Jan Manton Art 

Fire child | Samuel Tupou | silkscreen on high densitiy PVC 80 x 120 cm | 2012

twin moon rising  | Samuel Tupou | silkscreen on high densitiy PVC 55 x 120 cm | 2011

Fire Horse | Samuel Tupou | silkscreen on high densitiy PVC 80 x 120 cm | 2012

pan-o-vision v.l – pan-o-vision v.12 | Samuel Tupou | silkscreen on high densitiy PVC 40cm round | 2012

Excuse my dodgy iPhone photos. You can check out more of Tupou’s works from this exhibition over at Jan Manton Art gallery website here, along with other works of his from 2007 and 2008 exhibitions at Jan Manton Art.

My favourite from this exhibition would have to pan-o-vision v.1 – v.12. I’m loving the hyper pop colour spectrum with its wallpaper background that reminds me of colourful Pacific lavalavas (sarongs). The 1950s pop art nostalgia reflects the Wests romanticised vision of the Pacific back in the 1950s and 60s – think Elvis Presley and Blue Hawaii.

The use of urban motifs – shopping cart, airplanes etc. and of traditional and contemporary Pacific motifs  – horses (he is Tongan…), cows, fire etc., Tupou creates a new narrative which portrays the life of a Pacific Islander in diaspora.

pan-o-vision | Samuel Tupou

Jan Manton Art

1/93 Fortescue Street, Spring Hill, Brsibane, Australia

28 March – 21 April 2012.

Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday by appointment and 10-4pm Saturday (no appointment necessary).  To make an appointment please call the gallery on 07 3837 3060 or mobile 0419 657 768.


Samuel Tupou’s website

pan-o-vision exhibition on Jan Manton Art website

Screen prince by Phil Brown. Brisbane News, April 2012.

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