Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Francis cant stop Painting

FOR the 34 years that he has been painting, Francis Hussein feels his artistic skills has constantly improved. His real name is Abdul Rahiman Farooq Hussein but he is better known as Francis. Born in Nadi, Francis was raised in Suva, attending Dudley Primary School and Gospel High School.
He has always been a freelance artist and in 2000 he joined the Fiji Institute of Technology School of Arts, Culture and Design as a tutor-lecturer in visual arts.
Francis specialises in oil-based paintings on canvas and has lost count of the number of paintings he has done. He gets his inspiration from the things around him, especially the environment.

"I love painting things that concern the environment I just have to look outside and will immediately get the motivation I need for whatever piece I am working on," he said.
"Most of the paintings I have done have been sold overseas and the highest price was $1500," he said. That was a painting on the cement factory at Lami.

He has done quite a few historical pieces - on traditional Fijian village settings and piece on Rotuma piece that featured the natives and early French explorers. "In the years that I have been a freelance artist, there is one thing that I have been aiming for and that is for Fiji to have an art bank just like the banks that we have here, but this bank should store art pieces by local artists."

He lives at Sakoca, in Tacirua, outside Suva, and his wife is a garment factory worker.
They have three children two daughters and a son who are all married and have given them three granddaughters. Although life has been a struggle because his income is irregular, Francis has found ways to keep painting even as prices for materials rise and rise. "When I paint, I paint from my heart and the satisfaction gained from looking at the completed work is hard to describe," he said. "It's like hugging your children. The happiness and satisfaction you feel is something like that." Francis feels Fiji is only beginning to realise the beauty of art but for artists, although they may earn a lot of money from the sale of one painting, finding the market or a buyer is always the hardest part.

And of course, a little consistency goes a long way. "Finding an income as an artist in Fiji is quite hard," he said. And he should know all too well because he barely makes ends meet as sales are often far and few and at times, he has had to sell his pieces at prices lower than what it should fetch. While he has sold a substantial number of paintings, he has done a few for friends and family and for these, he left it to them to give him what they could from his paintings. "Fiji is just waking up to the art world and at times, I have had to compromise prices to sell my paintings," said Francis.

He is now 50, going on 51 and has been painting since he was a 17-year-old student in Suva. Not one to disclose too much about his family, he only says no one else had an artistic flare like him.
He did not know where he got his artistic intuition from as neither of his parents nor any of his siblings were artistically inclined. And none of his children take after him as well art wise, that is.
"Even though I am 50-years-old, I will continue painting until the life goes out of me," he laughs.
Francis proudly says most of his paintings that have sold have gone to the far ends of the earth to the United States of America and in a few countries in Europe. He said one of his students who bought a painting from him told him that his painting was now hanging in the Geneva Museum. In addition to all that, he says there are more than 10 of his pieces hanging at the Na Hina apartments on MacGregor Road, in Suva.

For now, he struggles to maintain his artistic skills and at times he walks from his home in Tacirua to parts of the capital city in a bid to find people to sponsor him by way of buying the materials with which he does his work. Although that task may seem daunting, he doesn't see it as such as the love of the art keeps driving him on.

But he hopes there will be galleries opened in Suva or in the country to showcase local art.
Most of all, he hopes to travel around Fiji as he feels he has seen and painted enough of Suva.