Tongans have traditionally experienced time as cyclical. Important personalities, events and patterns take on an archetypal quality because they reoccur from one era to the next. The Western notion of time as a one-way road into the
future, and of events as individual and unrepeatable, is alien to
traditional Tongan thought, seen in a Tongan proverb that they ‘walk forward into the past and backward into the future’.
Benjamin Work’s upcoming exhibition - Toutoutā ('to mark or strike repeatedly’) – delves into the act of repetition. His new works continue to explore the heliaki (semiotics) of the Akau tau (ancient Tongan war clubs) that are adorned with warrior symbols, the Tui’ Tonga (Sacred Ruler), and societal and spiritual constructs. He applies Toutoutā to his more well-known & minimalistic paintings, by combining the three key elements in important Tongan philosophy: Tatau (symmetry), Potupotutatau (harmony) and Faka `ofa `ofa (beauty) (1).
(1) Professor Hūfanga Dr 'Okusitino Māhina. Tā & Vā and Moana: Temporality, Spatiality and Indigeneity.