Saturday, May 17, 2008


TO understand a painting, one must first understand the painter.
It is not easy to see through the eyes of a painter but Joe Taoi Sususewa looks at painting as another way to express his creativity and passion for beauty.
Joe is from Navosa, up the Sigatoka Valley.
He is the son of high school teacher Willie Sususewa and his mother Perina is the driving force at home.
The eldest of six children, Joe's passion for painting started when he was in Class Three.
Although he had a simple upbringing, Joe said drawing was something that always kept him busy in school.
It was the main reason he wanted to go to school and from that early age, Joe would be shaping things with his pencil on a piece of paper or on his exercise book when he was supposed to studying another subject.
"I was brought up in the interior and never really thought about what I wanted to do.
"In Class Three, instead of writing, I would be drawing.
"I attended primary school at Navesau then secondary school at Suva Adventist and then Navesau High School.
"After high school, I continued to pursue my interest in art at the Fiji Institute of Technology studying for a diploma in visual arts.
"It then that I started playing around with colours and started painting.
"I always try to develop something different from a picture I just painted.
"I do not find painting hard and I feel happy when I paint or draw.
"It has become something I love doing and enjoy."
It did not take long for Joe to discovering his talent for creating something beautiful from a simple paint brush and piece of paper or canvas.
His drawings and paintings of the environment is a pleasing sight.
Like most painters and artists, Joe's secret to creating a masterpiece is having a passion for the work.
No doubt, his passion for painting has inspired him to stand out and be different.
He has learnt to express his ideas and creativity through art.
"In 2004, I had the opportunity to work with a well known Korean artist named Young Soorhee.
"He helped me develop my talent in painting.
"I was not working and was facing financial difficulties at the time but was fortunate to cross paths with Sonny Misiolo, a Samoan artist.
"He was quite well-off and I was able to spend time learning about different kinds of artwork and paintings.
"I stayed with him for a year.
"Everyday after school, I would go to him to learn more about developing my talent.
"For me paintings and drawings contain stories and history.
"In 2005, my paintings and drawings were part of the national art exhibition.
"It was the first time for me to enter an art exhibition and I was very nervous but confident at the same time.
"I won two awards at that exhibition, one was for Emerging Artist and the other was for Indigenous Art.
"The paintings are part of the Fiji Arts Council's collection."
Apart from that Joe has done paintings for restaurants and nightclubs in Suva.
The award winning artist believes art has helped him become more confident of his skills and talent.
His dream is to follow in the footsteps of the one and only Vincent Van Gogh — famous for his paintings in the late 19th Century.
Like any other painter, their environment and culture influence their paintings.
Joe has an interest in indigenous and environmental art.
"We had a retreat on a mountain top and it was an eye opener for me.
"The natural beauty we take for granted becomes an inspiration.
In Fiji, paintings and drawings tell stories.
"Our environment tells a story and these stories are put into art, paintings and drawings for the next generation.
"We are preserving our culture and identity through our paintings.
"I believe everyone has a God-given talent.
"It is up to them to discover that talent and move on to do something better and more productive with their life."
For Joe, the sky is the limit and his example should be a lead for spiring painters and artists.
But as Joe said, if you do not have the passion for it, then you do not have it.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online