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Village life ... a favourite theme of painter Akuila Kacanavesikula.
Akuila's impression of a local beach.

You would think that 51-year-old Akuila Kacanavesikula has it made, selling paintings to tourists in a world class resort setting on Fiji’s Denarau Island.

You would be forgiven if you thought so.

Not only does he sell his paintings to tourists from the world over at the Sheraton and Westin Resorts, he even gets to teach his tourist acquaintances the basics of painting.

It’s a sign that his artistic endeavours are appreciated.

Yet, there was a time when Akuila had to go from office to office selling his paintings.

“I had to put food on the table and went wherever the door was open for my paintings,” he said.

Akuila’s is a story of hidden talent discovered early in life.

A self-taught painter, Akuila knew his passion when he was still a third former at Gospel High School in Suva.

All it took was a little encouragement from his younger brother.

Akuila did his share of exploring his inner-talent and it was when he went to work at his plantation in the hills of Rakiraki that he realised how natural beauty impacted his paintings when done in solitude.

Like many other artists, Akuila gets his inspiration from Fiji’s natural surroundings.

“My paintings are mostly on landscape because I find it more captivating and it is something that tourists easily buy as they find the themes of these more interesting than portraits,” he said.

And, because so much of Fiji living is at village-level, Akuila’s paintings depict village settings.

“I do not have any set number of paintings I do in a day, it all lies within. When I see that my painting supply is low, I am automatically able to create more with my mind’s eye.”

Even though Akuila is able to do still-life painting, abstract, portrait and scenic painting, all of which are said to be the hallmarks of a person who has mastered the art of painting, he humbly refuses to be thought of in such a measure because he feels he still has not mastered the art of painting.

“I do not believe that we can ever master the art of painting because there are so many things to explore each day and it depends on how far people are willing to stretch their imagination.”

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