Fatu Feu'u

b. 1946

Also known as:

  • Papali'i Fatu Feu'u ONZM

Fatu Feu’u was born in Poutasi, Western Samoa, where he has chiefly status. Moving to New Zealand in 1966, Feu'u was struck by the different attitudes toward art in the two countries. He became a full-time artist in 1988 and around this time, with friends, initiated the Tautai Pacific Arts. The association was formalised as a charitable trust in 1995.

"Fatu Feu’u has been pivotal in shaping the interest in contemporary Pacific art globally and nurturing a generation of Pacific artists locally...

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.

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."

Feu'u has been recognised by Distinguished Alumni Award (Waipapa Taumat Rau -- The University of Auckland, 2023) Senior Pacific Artist Award (Creative New Zealand, 2022), ICON Award (Te Tumu Toi Arts Foundation, 2022), by induction into the New Zealand Order of Merit for his "Achievements in Art" (2001) and the James Wallace Art Award (1995) - the first artist of Pacific heritage to receive this award.

~ quotes from ARTIS Gallery.

See also:

Select Bibliography and Publications:

Fatu Feu’u – On Life & Art, Fatu Feu’u & Shona Jennings (Little Island Press: 2012)

New Zealand Painting - a Concise History, Michael Dunn (Auckland University Press: 2003)

Of Tapa and Tatau - The Art of Fatu Feu’u, Helen Pearson (Interactive Education: 2003)

Contemporary NZ Art 3, Elizabeth Caughey & John Gow (David Bateman: 2002)

Speaking in Colour - Conversations with artists of Pacific Island heritage, Sean Mallon and Pandora Fulialo Pereira (Te Papa Press: 1997)

Fatu Feu’u, ‘Tui’ (1994), Grey Lynn Park, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021