Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine is a Tongan sculptor, fine artist and qualified architect, now residing in Aotearoa, New Zealand. His work is largely informed by refined traditional Tongan artistic and literary concepts and practices and is highly sophisticated. He is an artist helping to define what indigenous art is in a global context.
Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine grew up in a rich cultural environment, with lived experiences of various traditional Tongan art forms. Now, after living in New Zealand for more than half his life, Sēmisi sees relevance in both his past and present situations. He works as a multi-media artist across a number of disciplines, notably architecture and sculpture amongst others, and his exposure to rich ancient knowledges contributes to his work. His research concentrates on time and space, culture and language, theory and practice.
Sēmisi was selected to exhibit in New Zealand’s foremost outdoor sculpture exhibition, the biennial Sculpture on the Gulf with his artwork Manuēsina (White Bird and White Angel) on Waiheke Island in 2017. He has completed international public art commissions in Tonga including Hinavakamea, Hina the iron boat and Tunavakamea, Tuna the iron boat (2012) and Lei’ataua (2010) in the UK. He has also authored and co-authored a number of books, book chapters, journal articles and has illustrated children’s books.
Sēmisi interrogates his subject matter by constantly mediating conflicts in the creative process, transforming them from a condition of chaos to a state of order through sustained symmetry, geometry and harmony to create beauty.
In 2009 he was awarded a place in the coveted Commonwealth Connections International Arts Residencies programme in 2009, a prestigious award, which he undertook at The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) at the University of Cambridge in the UK during 2010.
Sēmisi has a Master of Architecture from The University of Auckland. He is currently practicing as an Architecture, Art and Design Consultant.