The Ex­cit­ing New Works of Joseph John.

Island Life - - Culture Diary -

Story by Pa­tri­cia Gil

os­eph’s af­fair with art started as a young child. He has al­ways painted and art has been his life’s call­ing and his ca­reer. From Emae Is­land, in the Shep­herds group, Joseph grew up in Efate but re­turns to his home is­land al­most ev­ery year. It is there that he gets a lot of the in­spi­ra­tion for his paint­ings. “I love the ocean and back in my is­land, go out into the ocean and dive ev­ery day.”

book ‘Nana Coco pe­tite sarciere de la Grande-terre et l’ogre tres gros’ by Clau­dine Jac­ques. His oil and wa­ter­colour paint­ings can be found in gov­ern­ment build­ings and pri­vate homes. “I get quite a bit of com­mis­sioned work. Af­ter more than 30 years as an artist, word of mouth goes around. Some­times peo­ple will ask for a very spe­cific paint­ing and some­times it is a gen­eral theme that they would like me to trans­late into a paint­ing.” T he ab­so­lute un­der­ly­ing theme of all of Joseph’s works is na­ture and the in­ter­ac­tion of hu­mans and the nat­u­ral world. Above and be­yond, on the earth and in the ocean, Joseph paints the beauty of na­ture like few peo­ple can. His latest work is a se­ries of wa­ter­colours in which hu­man forms are drawn out of rich marine and for­est land­scapes. The paint­ings are in­fin­itely del­i­cate. With re­mark­able in­tri­cacy, rich­ness of de­tail and ex­quis­ite colour­ing and shad­ing, each paint­ing is an ex­pres­sion of the end­less beauty of na­ture. “We are killing na­ture. We need na­ture and na­ture needs us. When we kill the trees, the birds go, the an­i­mals go. When we kill na­ture, we kill our­selves,” he ex­plains. Joseph’s other pre­oc­cu­pa­tion is with the cur­rent state of art in Van­u­atu. “At the mo­ment, I am teach­ing art at the Van­u­atu Teach­ers Col­lege. I am teach­ing teach­ers how to teach art to chil­dren. Art is not be­ing taught enough at schools and at a higher level. There is also a lack of un­der­stand­ing of how to teach art. Teach­ing art is not about giv­ing a child a piece of pa­per and say­ing, ‘ go ahead, paint!’ and that is that. Teach­ing art is about teach­ing how to see, how to look at some­thing and see some­thing else. It is about en­cour­ag­ing ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and giv­ing di­rec­tion. It is about teach­ing how to be cre­ative and to in­spire to cre­ate new things, not to copy,” Joseph ex­plains. H is cur­rent teach­ing com­mit­ments are tak­ing time away from his art and his wa­ter­colour se­ries rests un­fin­ished, wait­ing. “I am tak­ing time off this Christ­mas to fin­ish the se­ries. I have so many ideas that new paint­ings keep com­ing into my head and I don’t have the time to fin­ish it all. I have to put the ideas down onto pa­per first, be­fore I lose them. But I will get there.” The works are of such qual­ity that buy­ers are look­ing to ac­quire his work be­fore it is even fin­ished. Joseph how­ever, is not so sure about selling the wa­ter­colours. “I don’t know what am I go­ing to do. The orig­i­nals are re­ally not for sale and my idea is to keep them and dis­play them per­ma­nently. ” But fear not, from lim­ited edi­tion prints to posters, the works will be avail­able in dif­fer­ent forms to be en­joyed by many. I per­son­ally can’t wait.

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