I first laid eyes on Nelson at the Central Coast Festival of Arts last year where he was the featured artist with a wonderful exhibition of paintings on bark cloth.

It was a bit of shock to see this powerful looking Fijian Australian all dressed up for war carrying a vicious timber weapon. I immediately thought that he would make a wonderful subject for a painting and asked him to sit for a portrait.

I was intrigued by the paradox between his fierce appearance and his gentle sweet nature and I have painted him twice wearing his war paint on looking every bit the savage warrior but for the Doug Moran Prize we decided on a more princely pose with him wearing a bark cloth turban.

Nelson paints traditional and contemporary works on canvas as well as his works on bark cloth using plant saps and resins. Two of these works can be seen in the background of this painting.

Peter Smeeth - 2010

POSTSCRIPT: Dr Peter Smeeth wins First Prize at the 2010 Mortimore Art Prize

Warrior's steely gaze a winner

Formidable is both the portrait and its subject.
Peter Smeeth's painting titled "Nelson Salesi, guarding his artwork" shows off the two men in all their glory.
The former GP won his "first major" at the opening night of the 2010 Mortimore Art Prize in Dubbo at the weekend.
The best-in-show award was courtesy of artistic diligence and the imposing image of Nelson Salesi, a Fijian artist with a burgeoning career.
Yesterday the portrait was a drawcard at St Brigid's Hall in Brisbane Street, where the exhibition will run "every day" until October 17.
About 200 people turned out to opening night to see Dr Smeeth collect the trophy and $15,000 of the $40,000 prizemoney distributed after judging by a panel of 157 finalists.
The central coast artist is expected to form part of the 2011 judging panel, following in the footsteps of other winners.
The Mortimore Art Prize is a national contest in the realism genre.
Its exhibition will move to the Scots College in Sydney from October 22 to 31, before the winning works are displayed in the foyer of Dubbo's St George Bank in November.
Courtesy The Daily Liberal - 28 Sep, 2010


Contact the Office of Nelson Salesi at office@fijianart.com.au

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