Hari Lualhati | Interview | Drawing From Observation
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Interview: Hari Lualhati

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Getting to Know Hari Lualhati

1. Tell DFO a little bit more about yourself

I’m Hari Lualhati, a full-time artist permanently based in Cape Town, South Africa.

I finished my Bachelors’ Degree in Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines – Diliman, Year 2006 with honours – Cum Laude. I was born on February 12, 1985 and at an early age, I’ve shown a lot of interest in art, more specifically in drawing. I remember, whenever there’s a nice cartoon on TV and we cannot afford to buy illustrations/stickers of characters from those cartoons, I will just draw them on a sheet of paper so I can have a remembrance of them.

The same applies to my favourite Disney movies; they inspired me at a young age to draw cartoon characters and made me dream to become an animator at the Disney Company someday.

I remember before I get admitted for Grade 1 at Primary School, there’s an examination that we need to pass. One of the tasks was to draw our father. Most of the kids drew a stick figure but my figure drawing that time already had volume and so many details that impressed the teachers.

As I get older, I became curious about trying different mediums and exploring different subjects to paint and draw. Every day, I thank God that I’m able to follow my passion and do what my heart desires, and that is painting/drawing.

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. 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.

2. From an art perspective: What are your biggest weaknesses?

At the moment, what I consider as my biggest weakness is social media. It’s amazing how social media can take my attention away from creating artwork and occupy a lot of my time. Whenever I receive a comment or message on social media, I would like to immediately answer or say thank you to that person as my sign of respect for the time that the person has given me and I don’t have problem with that.

My problem starts when I see interesting posts, checking what’s the latest on my friends there and before you know it I have spent so much time on my phone instead of painting/drawing.

3. Be bold – tell us: "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

The ambitious part of me wants to say so many things. Up to now, I’m still trying to learn how to control that part to avoid being hurt. In life, I’ve learned a lesson that I am now applying as one of my principles; that is to always do your best, don’t expect and leave the rest to God.

I don’t know what will happen 5 years from now but one thing I’m sure right now is, I have so much passion to my craft and I hope God will continue to use me as an instrument to deliver artworks with high quality craftsmanship, exceptional aesthetics but most importantly artworks with heart and meaning that connect to people.

4. Out of thousands of artists in SA, why should people appreciate your art?

Like any other artist, I also need to sell my artworks in order to survive but when creating art, that is my last priority. I’m grateful that I’ve been given the privilege to paint because this is my passion.

I am very proud of each and every artwork I’ve sold and created because they are all made with love. None of them has been rushed, none of them has been created for money. I paint them because they are a reflection of my belief, an idea I’m passionate about and stand for. All of them have been well thought out.

They are all my babies; they are all part of me. The experiences where they have been inspired from, creativity, labour, time, heart, and soul I poured in every art piece I’ve created are all the factors that I hope would transcend and will give an unforgettable experience to the viewers of my artworks.

5. "What do you like about being in the creative industry? / What do you enjoy about using your creative talent?"

I am grateful for the freedom that I’m experiencing as an artist: the freedom to express myself, freedom to choose the concept, the style, and the message that I can deliver through my artworks. For me, this freedom adds passion to the artist’s creative process that will surely transcend to the viewers of the artwork.

Another thing I like about being an artist is the capability to influence emotions and to touch the hearts of the people through my creations. Having exhibited my artworks in different far locations, 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 has 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 has decided to tattoo my painting on his skin. He also attached a photo that is very flattering.

6. What do you consider to be your biggest creative achievement??

Other people might think that it’s the awards I have won or the opportunity to have solo exhibitions or the exhibitions I had outside of the country as my biggest achievement but for me, every time I finish an artwork is what I consider a big achievement.

The fulfilment and the joy of finishing an artwork are incomparable to any other achievements. It makes me feel that I’m doing my purpose in life correctly. It gives me hope that I can touch the hearts of new people whenever I finish a new piece; that for me is my biggest achievement.

7. Tell us about the last time a client, family or friend questioned your art or creativity. Elaborate on what happened.

The only experience I had from someone who questioned my art was in social media. A stranger made a comment on the photo of my artwork saying something that she didn’t like my artwork because it’s nude. I would usually try to understand where the comment is coming from, if it is constructive criticism then I prefer to talk to the person privately or if it is just a senseless form of bashing then I just ignore it.

8. When working on art "describe your definition of done."

I consider an art piece done when it starts talking to my heart. Usually, it is that moment when I look at every part of the painting and my eyes glide smoothly and nothing would irritate my sight. When I’m sure that I’ve given my best, then I know it’s done.

9. When creating, what kind of work environment do you like best?

I prefer working alone. I have a room at my house where I usually paint. I’m always being accompanied by my dog named Coco; he never leaves me alone. I’m not choosy on the kind of working space. I just want privacy. I prefer to be the only one making noise or playing music or listening to anything that interests me at that time. If I’m not at my home and I need to work, I prefer using my earphone.  

10. Define your creative/drawing style?

I can define my creative style, whether painting or drawing as a marriage of realism, symbolism, and expressionism. I prefer drawing my subject in a clear realistic style to make sure it can easily be identified by anyone no matter if they are experts in art or not, for me to make sure I deliver the message of my artwork clearly. Then I would draw the other parts as expressive as I can so there would be balance and to make the piece more interesting.

11. What can we expect from you in the near future?

I just had a SOLD OUT SOLO Exhibition in Cape Town last month. I’m also currently a featured artist at the latest The South African Artist Magazine Issue Number 48. You can have a look at my interview there as well. Right now I’m preparing for a new SOLO Exhibition and hopefully next year the launch of my 4th Series. Please make sure to follow my social media accounts to follow my artistic journey.

12. What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Always try to be kind. Follow your heart. Be practical. Work hard. Never stop dreaming.