Immediate and engrossing, each work in this new suite of paintings by Kalisolaite ‘Uhila is an interplay of presence and absence, dark and light. Ink and acrylic paint has been applied to canvas with the aid of tools usually used in working the land such as fork, trowel, and helepelu or machete.
In Tonga, the home of ‘Uhila’s ancestors, fonualoto is the stone enclosure for the body at the bottom of the grave (as a rule, only persons of high rank are buried in such a way). In the Tongan language fonua can mean land, country, territory, place, people of the land or grave. Loto is the inside, interior, the very centre of an inner wall, mind or heart as the seat of affections.
‘Uhila’s Fonualoto series is made up of dramatic iterations, intense blackness then raw canvas. Repetitive gestures of mark-making and incising build up to create tenebrous masses of black and exposed canvas supports, as the artist explores mark-making to dramatic and visceral effect.
Michael Lett will donate 10% of sales of these works to Red Cross in support of the relief efforts following the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga.