Manamea’s art exhibition “ The New Samoa: Samoa Fou” officially opened yesterday evening to the public at their studio in Vaigaga.
A principal painting in the collection by artist Lalovai Peseta, features a portrait of Prime Minister Tuilaepa.
In a ‘life imitating art’ moment, special guest Prime Minister Tuilaepa arrived to the surprise of guests at the Vaigaga gallery. The Prime minister walked around to view the exhibition and upon seeing his portrait for the first time broke into a wide smile.
“It looks like me,” he told the Samoa Observer. “It’s very nice and I like it.”
The Prime Minister’s image is depicted being challenged and obstructed by the arm of the controversial political blogger ‘O le Palemia’ against a back drop of some of the major changes that Tuilaepa has implemented in Samoa during his tenure as Prime Minister.
Asked whether he was a lover of Art and what he thought of the strong imagery surrounding his likeness, the Prime Minister who has just recently arrived from his trip to Japan, said: “ Yes, I do enjoy art.”
He added: “It’s 6 o’clock now and my mind is very tired to think beyond the image itself -but yes it is pleasing to the eye. I hope it looks like me - does it look like me?”
When this reporter replied that yes it did look like him, the Prime minister jokingly said: “But that doesn’t look like the photo you normally put in the Observer.”
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, artist Lalovai Peseta discussed what moved him to express his views on the combative nature in the relationship between the current government administration and the controversial blogger.
“It’s not just the P.M, it’s about how individuals are treated badly on social media. We all understand that all developments come with problems and the idea came to my mind when I saw that O.L.P. was harassing people online.
“Not everybody is perfect but Tuilaepa has been developing Samoa in a good way from my perspective compared to when I was growing up – there wasn’t much here but now we are more developed than ever.
“The way people are disrespecting him.. but don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be challenged because that’s how ideas come out… but the way that O.L.P. is doing it– we don’t know who they are..
“I painted the O.L..P coming from the cracks of the land because that’s one of the most talked about issue right now is land rights.
“I used the image of a centipede under O.L.P. there because the nature of a centipede is to bite you then run and hide. It’s also very painful when they bite and that’s how I felt when I painted this. I used only red tones because it represents war and anger.”
“As you can see in the painting the page is flailed up because that’s what’s happening, some people want to turn the page. They want to see Samoa’s next page and right now it’s still the Prime Minister's page.”
All paintings are for sale and the exhibition will be running for a week at the Manamea Art studio. All are welcome with free entry and there will be a chance to meet the artists at 5pm this Saturday.
Gallery Hours: Mon-Thurs 10am - 6pm
Friday 10am - 5pm