Painting with an untamed heart - Hari Lualhati interview

Hari Lualhati November 2017 painting

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Faded, dripping backgrounds can only but highlight the subject matter of Hari Lualhati’s paintings. Staring face to face at LOVE is a true rarity. As the most important of life experiences, the one that only really matters, one should be accustomed to find its omnipresence. Yes, movies and songs frequently deal with the topic of love in one way or another, but not this, a static two dimensional encounter with it. A mighty feeling, a way of life, a journey, the only thing worth living and fighting for, what can one say in words about love that has not been said before?. Is this sudden overexposure to LOVE that I find brutal; it’s certainly not the glimpses from Matisse’s cut outs, the subtleness of Klimt of the clear spelling of Robert Indiana. Lualhati’s work is raw, bears it all to the point of saturation, when one has to surrender to the unavoidable connection with her pieces, that are extreme in beauty but most importantly in essence.  One cannot just not get her work, as is inherent on us to recognise the truth, but they are a slap on your face, a wake up call to remind you that if you haven’t loved, you never truly lived.

Lualhati’s paintings are full of symbols, like horses that are commonly associated with boldness, virility and courage. Butterflies that represent fragility, beauty, these free-flying insects are the closest thing the natural world offers to our concept of the untethered human spirit. Buds and blossoms symbols of love and passion.

Don’t confuse her work with self portraits, as although she is her own reference model, it is not about her. Lualhati wants the viewers to see themselves on her artworks.These are inspired by powerful lessons she’s learned from life and emphasize the value of life and incorporate elements like nature and animals to show that we are all connected. A profound visual narrative and exquisite technique to reveal the invisible within the visible.

Hari Lualhati ‘Beyond Desire’

Hari Lualhati is a painter, Illustrator, graphic artist, and designer born in Philippines with a Degree in Fine Arts in University of the Philippines, Diliman year 2006 (Cum Laude). Lualhati has worked in Manila, Hong Kong, Shenzhen China, and South Africa and she is now based in South Africa. She has received numerous awards from international competitions like the “ARC Staff Awards from the 12th Art Renewal Centre’s International ARC Salon 2016 (USA), “Arte Dinamica” Grifio Art Prize 2016 (Rome), Art Renewal Centre’s International ARC Salon Finalist 2015, American Art Awards 2014- 1st Place (USA), The Palm Art Award Certificate of Excellence 2012 (Germany, been selected for the 1st Biennale of Art of Palermo 2012 (Italy), part of the shortlist of Ken Bromley Art Supplies Cover Competition 2012 (UK), part of Top Ten Winners of Vivid Arts Network “Conscious Creation” 2012 International Fine Art Competition (New York), to name a few. She has also been featured in numerous international magazines and newspapers and been on the cover of International Art Magazines like Art Manager 7 Magazine year 2013, INSIGHT Magazine for year 2013 and Close to Art Magazine, an Art-Design-Architecture French Magazine for year 2014.

Lualhati’s artworks have been exhibited in Philippines, Hong Kong, South Africa, Italy, Germany, Armenia, Ukraine, Prague, and Spain.

Hari Lualhati ‘Kiss of Fate’

 “I paint with my heart. For me, a painting is successful if it can make anyone who would look at it feel the emotion that it’s supposed to give. It is like delivering a clear message by touching the hearts of the viewers.” – Hari Lualhati


What has been your personal journey, starting in Philippines and now living in South Africa?
I was born year 1985 in the Art Capital of the Philippines, Angono, Rizal. At an early age, I’ve showed a lot of interest in painting and have joined and won several painting competitions (became consistent school representative). I’ve obtained a Degree in Fine Arts in University of the Philippines, Diliman year 2006 and graduated with honors (Cum Laude).
After my studies I started working in Manila, Philippines and later in Hong Kong and Shenzhen China as graphic artist and product designer. Now, I’m based in South Africa. South Africa is full of amazing sceneries that will surely charm anyone’s heart.

Hari Lualhati ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’

Love in all its facets is a recurring theme and inspiration of your work. How much of the stories told by your art are autobiographic?
I’m inspired by my personal experiences in life. I remember when I was still a kid, I would always paint “mother and child” theme. I guess it’s because at that time, I can really feel the love from my parents and that inspired me to paint that kind of topic. Now, at my age, I’ve been inspired by love and things I’ve learned in a relationship. As I mature, I also gain some wisdom and these things I’ve learned in life are what give me the inspiration to paint. I feel like it’s been easier for me to paint the emotion that is needed for the painting if I paint something from my personal experience. I am hopeful that somehow I can pass these life lessons that are close to my heart through my artworks so that people can also learn from them or be inspired by them.

What is the meaning of your work?
My artworks are inspired by powerful lessons I’ve learned from life. My creations emphasize the value of life and incorporate elements like nature and animals to show that we are all connected. My goal is to create a connection between my artwork and whoever will view it. I hope that the audience could see part of themselves through my artworks and hopefully it could bring them back to that triumphant and inspiring part of their lives and make them realize how a big blessing it is to be alive.

Vibrant colours are characteristics of your works. What is the importance of colour in delivering the message?
A lot of vibrant colours can be seen from my first series of paintings titled “Efflorescence Series”. I intentionally emphasized colours on this series to symbolize specific characteristics like red for passion, green for hope, etc. I believe that the use of correct colour helps a lot in delivering a clearer message. It can set the mood that is needed in a painting and can influence the feelings of the viewers.

You have depicted love in its many stages and transformations, but always through the human body. Is carnal love the ultimate expression of love?
The form of the human body, specifically the naked body, has always fascinated me. I find it elegant, classic and very relatable. There is also a feeling of “sincerity” that I love seeing on a naked form. These qualities inspire me to use nude figure as my subject matter to deliver the theme, which is LOVE. I can say that all my artworks revolve around love as the main theme. Love has influenced my life in so many ways that’s why I have the eagerness to capture that feeling through my artworks. Carnal love is one great expression of love but for me, the ultimate expression of love is staying in love at times when it’s hard to see anything lovable. Respect, patience, sincerity and genuine care at times when things are rough are the ultimate expressions of love for me that I’ve always try to transcend through my artworks.

In a previous interview, you defined God as your favourite artist. What is your relationship with God and how this transpires in your work.
I believe in God, that God created everything including all the beautiful sceneries, the expressive sky and all the unique creatures, that is why I consider God as my favourite artist. Aside from everything that I can see, the main reason why God is my favourite artist is because of what God makes me feel and that is LOVE. My personal relationship with God is hard to explain. I try to speak to God everyday through prayers and tell God all my desires and sins. God has seen my worst side and knows my ugliest thoughts but despite all of that I can still fell the acceptance, mercy and most specially Love from God. For me, God is Love and there’s nothing more inspiring than that.

As a figurative artist, do you see abstraction, sculpture or performative art as future avenues to express your work?
I have always been interested in learning new avenues to express my creativity. I just struggle to balance my schedule and find the perfect instructor but this is something that I look forward to in the near future.

How do people usually respond to your art? 
Having exhibited my artworks from all over the world, I often cannot be present at the gallery during the exhibitions. It always touches my heart whenever I would hear from the gallery the great feedback from the viewers. Several times, gallery owners told me that the viewers cried while looking at my artwork. There is also an instance when a husband bought my painting as a surprise gift and sign of his love for his wife as he have seen her eyes sparkle while staring at my artwork. I have also received numerous emails from teenagers telling me how my artworks influenced them. The recent email I received was from a guy named John from San Francisco California. He told me that my art made a big impact in his life that’s why he have decided to tattoo my painting on his skin (he also attached a photo); that is very flattering.

What is the reaction of the teenagers you meet when giving school talks, as they are unlikely to have experienced love at that level?

Whenever I give talks to teenagers at schools, I focus more on the technique and my painting process instead of the theme love. At the end, I would always advise them to paint a theme that they personally love.

How do you reach the international audience from South Africa? 
I’m very thankful for the technology that we have now, the Internet and different social medias have made everyone from every part of the world closer to one another. These advancements have made it possible for me to reach anyone, anywhere.

What are your working on at the moment? 
I’m currently working on a new series of artworks. I will also be part of an International group exhibition titled “MODPORTRAIT International” on May 30 – June 17, 2018 at IAACC Pablo Serrano De Zaragoza Museum, Zaragoza, Spain and on June 22 – July 29, 2018 at European Museum of Modern Art (MEAM), Barcelona, Spain.

What are your plans for the future?

My plan is to keep on creating artworks of exceptional quality.

To find out more about Hari Lualhati’s work, visit her website.  Follow her in Instagram

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