The Pulenoa Triptych is a large three-part mural dealing with images of decolonisation and the long-standing migration of Pacific people. The diaspora across Polynesia is the painting’s key subject. Pulenoa is a traditional Niuean term which describes the physical trespass that occurs when someone acts without another’s consent. The painting tells stories of voyages and the ongoing dispossession created by colonisation in the Pacific.
Writing about this painting, the artist noted: ‘I wanted to express my concerns at the way countries like America and France test their nuclear powers and Star Wars programme using the ocean in our backyard as the site.’
Like the traditional hiapo, or paper mulberry textile of Niue, Pule’s painting uses interlocking grids to bind his stirring narratives together. The triptych was created much like an enormous drawing in three parts where human migration is counterposed with that of animals and plants. Pictographs teem across the surface showing star maps, compasses and wayfaring signals intermixing with ancient Pacific designs. Dynamic symbols of movement contrast with traces of emotional loss. Totems, either belonging to Christianity or Pacific mythology, further highlight the double sacrifice of homeland and tradition.