Artist Profile: Penehuro Papalii


Penehuro is one of the leading Samoan artists operating at the moment. His work as a sculptor has been hugely successful and has received international acclaim.


Originally from Sapapali’I on the island of Savai’I, Penehuro has been involved in the arts from a very young age. After attending college in Upolu, Penehuro was one of the first students to study at the Leulumoega Fou Fine Art School under the Italian Maestro Ernesto Cotter.


The main focus of Penehuro’s work is sculpting. As far as he knows, Penehuro believes he is the only artist in Samoa currently creating stone sculptures. He also works with metal and an assortment of other materials to create his work. Many of his sculptures are draw inspiration from the Samoan myths and legends as well as the natural Samoan environment.

Penehuro in front of one of his sculptures. Like this piece, much of his artwork was damaged in the 2012 floods.


Since his time at the fine art school Penehuro’s art has flourished. In 1996 he won a competition to design the official Coke bottle for the 1996 Olympics and in 2006 his sculpture of a Talking Chief was unveiled in Chang Chun, the largest sculpture park in China.


After leaving the a teaching tenure at the Leulumoega Fine Art School in 1996, Penehuro has also sought to create a new school and gallery of his own. He opened a gallery and art school in Lelata in Apia where he had around thirty students before moving his own art studio to Vaitele where he was able concentrate on his own art and supporting his family. Unfortunately the gallery and studio was destroyed last year after severe flooding that resulted from a hurricane. Whilst he thinks rebuilding and maintain his gallery art school are important for his future plans, he plans on focusing on his own work whilst he is young and has the enthusiasm and passion for his artwork.


Currently Penehuro is dedicating most of his time to creating his new sculpture park called ‘Ben’s Sculpture Park: Beautiful Expressions of Nature’. Penehuro plans to construct a gallery and art school alongside the sculpture park to help teach new generations the skills they need to become artists. The school which he hopes to call “Beautiful Expressions of Nature: Academy of Fine Arts”, will teach a variety of different forms of art.

Penehuro shows us the site for his new sculpture park.


Penehuro currently lives on site at the Beautiful Expressions of Nature Sculpture Park with his wife and three children Ernesto, Venus and Rubens (after the Flemish Painter). 


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