A work of art: Amish created to create

Amish Naresh with Beatrice Fin(Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) at a Youth Conference against nuclear activity in Auckland, 2018.Picture: SUPPLIED.

Amish Naresh is an artist that featured his artwork at the French Embassy’s Artists Matter Art Exhibition at the Fiji Museum Veranda this week.

The event is a charity fundraiser that featured more than 20 local artists.

Name: Amish Naresh

Nickname in the art world: Onesto / Alex

Age: 23

Marital status: Single!

Sunday Times: Amish, please share with us a little about yourself (Where are you from)?

 I’m from Naitonitoni Navua, but currently reside in Lautoka. I spent my childhood years in a small but very connected community, and my early adulthood was spent in Lautoka and Suva. I’m a newly graduated and licensed dental therapist and I often volunteer for NGOs advocating against global nuclear activity and for anti-discrimination efforts. I love basketball, badminton and volleyball too.

Sunday Times: What schools did you attend? 

I attended Fiji School of Medicine (FNU: CMNHS), Natabua High School, and Lautoka Central Primary School and Vashist Muni Primary School.

Sunday Times: As an artist, what draws your attention the most or what sort of art are you into?

 I started with a lot of interest in realism (the art of painting and drawing with so many details that it looks like a photo), but this interest diverged into all forms of art – abstract, sculpture, traditional and contemporary. Personally I fi nd the most interest in lessons such as gratitude and appreciation for ‘hidden’ beauty. Gratitude for the good and positive things in our life (includes critical people that have supported us over the years), and the beauty that lies in nature, in people and in living. My artwork enables me to promote these eternal and pure values amongst individuals and societies.

Sunday Times: How did it first start-off for you? 

It started off with drawing and comics that I made in my spare book – back in primary and high school. I remember vividly my classmates crowding beside me to look at the scribbling’s and sketches. I found it very encouraging, but perhaps the most encouraging act was when my father used to hang my drawings in the living room and show off to his grog-partners.

Sunday Times: Does painting sort of run in your family or are you the only one into it?

 It appears that I’m the only one, but I believe through enough encouragement there can be more highly talented artists – both in my family and community.

Sunday Times: I understand that often artist usually paints according to their emotions or how they feel, does it apply to you as an artist? 

Definitely applies to me! Painting and drawing and even creating sculptures are an excellent way of expressing your strong and suppressed emotions. It is always surprising how impactful and beautiful the artwork is from expressing your emotions.

Sunday Times: Which artists (local or international) do you fi nd inspiration from?

 A lot of international artists, but also some local ones. They include people like Jean Michel Basquiat, Vermeer, Anare Somumu, Erin Hanson, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Andy Warhol, KAWS, and especially Claude Monet.

Sunday Times: Has your work ever been featured in an exhibition, if yes please tell us about it and how you feel about your work being featured?

 In 2014, I was the runner up of Kula National Art Competition (and featured in the exhibition). In 2017 my work was featured in two exhibitions in 21K Gallery, and another exhibition was featured in 2018 by the Pacifi c Network on Globalisation. I have also submitted three of my largest paintings for an exhibition advocating for World Oceans Day which will launch on September 25. Much like the values that I advocate for in my artwork, I’m truly full of gratitude for these opportunities to show my art to more people and I appreciate the efforts of the people who have made these events possible. Very little makes me happier than to share these artworks with people of other culture and age.

Sunday Times: Who do you hope to inspire through your work?

 With every drawing and painting I finish, I hope to advocate for values such as gratitude for the many blessings on our life that we may overlook. Also, show appreciation for the people in our lives and our everlasting obligation to support not just each other but the environment that sustains.

Sunday Times: Have you ever sold a painting, if so how much was it sold for (if you want to include the price)?

 Thanks to 21K Gallery (and support from artists such as Waqa Vuidreketi, Josua and William Toganivalu and Mason Lee who were behind that gallery) all of my fi ve paintings were quickly sold before the night was over.

Sunday Times: Do you have any other career apart from being an artist?

 I’m a licensed dental therapist. So, keep brushing!!

Sunday Times: How do you view the evolution of art in Fiji and the rise of local artists? 

There is no limit to the potential of what we artists and Fijians can achieve together. I always think about that potential and strongly feel that we need to support each other to realise this potential. There is still a lot of space left for people to encourage and push each other in the art field in Fiji, and I think we really need to focus on that.

Sunday Times: What are some of the challenges that you face as an artist in Fiji? 

Much like that potential, there is no shortage of challenges too! A few of them are the availability and cost of art materials in Fiji, the lack of connection in Fiji’s artist community and even the decline in interest in the arts-field. I have never come across a challenge that I couldn’t overcome with support from good and genuine people in my life.

Sunday Times: What advice would you give to upcoming artists out here? 

Art will do for you as much as you do for art. Much like other things in life, if you invest your heart and soul into it – it will provide for you in return. The only obstacle is how to keep the faith when times get hard. What is faith without a good challenge?

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