Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi

Born 1959 in Nuku’alofa, Tonga
Lives in Auckland, New Zealand

Spanning over thirty years, Auckland-based artist Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi’s contemporary practice has its foundations in the traditional Tongan cultural practice of lalava (sennit lashing). Historically, forms of lalava lashings were both functional and decorative and used in the construction of houses around the Pacific. Tohi believes lalava patterns were a mnemonic device for representing a life philosophy, advocating balance in daily living, and were tied to cultural knowledge. He uses lalava motifs as the basis for contemporary works in a large variety of media: painting on canvas, carving in wood and stone, and designing abstract sculptural patterns in metal. The application of these patterns in new dimensional forms moves the traditional to a contemporary setting.