“I paint with my heart. For me, a painting is successful if it can deliver the message that it’s supposed to give by touching the heart of people.”
Hari Lualhati was born on February 12, 1985 in the Art Capital of the Philippines, Angono, Rizal. She came from a humble family; her father was a normal employee and her mother a housewife, and Hari is the youngest of four children. Hari Lualhati remembers before she got admitted into 1st grade at Primary School, there was an examination that students needed to take, to draw their fathers. Most of the kids drew stick figures but her figure drawing at that time already had volume and so much details that it impressed the teachers. When she was in primary school, her teachers would often choose her to write down the names of her classmates whenever the teacher had to be out of the room. Hari Lualhati often preferred to be alone and just draw. One thing she was always sure from a very short age, was that she wanted to work in the field of the arts, working with her hands: drawing and painting. She often was chosen to be the school representative for art competitions and luckily, she has received awards; these somehow boosted her confidence. Hari Lualhati had been an obedient and studious student during her elementary days.
Even if it’s unintentional, her artworks when she was in high school were often with the theme of “mother and child” because of her overflowing love for her own mother. The school immediately noticed her skills in painting and assigned her to be the school representative for art competitions. She was also part of an artist group in her high school. Every time there was an event, she would always be assigned to paint the background for the stage. She was asked by her principal to paint a mural on the second floor of the school building. For Hari Lualhati such an event is a memorable task because it is still being displayed at the school, where it's being taken care of and still is appreciated by teachers, new students, and visitors. Her talent and perseverance influenced her to be nominated as the student artist of each consecutive year throughout her high school years.
When she graduated from high school, Hari Lualhati didn’t know how to proceed with her life. Her father lost his job and decided to retire. She passed on the entrance exams at the Universities and her sister who was the provider of the family, at the time, couldn’t afford it. Hari Lualhati thought just to study any vocational course in order to finish something and almost lost hope until her cousin informed her about the Talent test for College of Fine Arts in the University of the Philippines; where if passed, she would be a scholar and able to study at the most prestigious school in the Philippines. She took the exam and passed. She finished her Bachelors's Degree in Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines, Diliman in the year 2006 (Cum Laude). She worked in Manila, Hong Kong, Shenzhen China, and South Africa as a graphic artist, product designer, illustrator, and painter. And is now a full-time artist based in Cape Town, South Africa.
Since then, Hari Lualhati received numerous awards from different international competitions as the “Marco’s Art Emporium – Return to Realism Art Competition’ – First prize Winner 2019, “Living Portrait Master” -Second Prize Winner 2017, “ARC Staff Awards from the 12th Art Renewal Centre’s International ARC Salon 2016 (USA), “Arte Dinamica” from Associazione Culturale Grifio Art Gallery 2016 (Rome), American Art Awards 2014- 1st Place (USA), The Palm Art Award Certificate of Excellence 2012 (Germany), to name a few. She has also been featured in International Magazines, Art Books/Catalogue and newspapers: Wall Street International 2018, The Philippine Star 2004, etc. She has also been on the cover of International Art Magazines like INSIGHT Magazine 2017, Art Manager 7 Magazine 2013, and Close to Art Magazine, and Art- Design-Architecture French Magazine 2014. In the early year 2018, she had an exhibition in the prestigious MEAM - European Museum of Modern Art where her artwork has been sold to a private collector in Europe. Her artworks have been exhibited in the Philippines, HongKong, South Africa, Italy, Germany, Armenia, Ukraine, Barcelona and Zaragoza (Spain), Prague (Czech Republic).
Simply put, her art is enchanting. With components such as sensuality, romanticism, love, passion, and nature - total magic no matter how you see it. Hari Lualhati embarks us on a journey that surpasses our own fantasies. It opens our eyes beyond what we know, and we only want to know more. Her art is like a big secret that we are the only ones aware of it. And it is definitely a secret we want to keep because it touches deep to senses that somehow and suddenly come alive.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it. Tell us something interesting or peculiar that you wish the readers to admire and understand about you and your style.
A. I can define my creative style as a marriage of realism, symbolism and expressionism. I prefer to paint my subject in a clear realistic style to make sure it can easily be identified by anyone (no matter if they are an expert in art or not), for me to make sure I deliver the message of my artwork clearly. Then I would paint the other parts as expressive as I can so there would be balance and to make the piece more interesting.
Q. What role does the Artist/ Painter have in society?
A. I believe that we have the capability to influence other people through their artworks. Art pieces serve as a great vehicle for messages/ ideas/ inspiration/ life lessons that can be passed on to different generations.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. I can still clearly remember my mom, waking me up early in the mornings for me to get ready for school, eating my breakfast (which oftentimes were instant noodles) were ready, the newly boiled hot water for my bath also was ready, and my ironed clothes were ready. Reason why sometimes even if I didn't feel like going to school, I would feel guilty for all the efforts my mom did, and for which I never let her efforts to be wasted. Whenever I look back at those times, I can feel the solid love of my mom towards me; I never felt so much taken care of. My mom would even walk with me on my way to the school to be sure I was safe because it was very early and still dark outside. I will forever treasure and will always look back at those precious memories. Now that I’m old, one of the things people don’t know about me is that I include instant noodles at my meals every weekdays. It’s because now that I’m living far from my mom, the taste of the instant noodles brings me back to the warmth and love when I was still young. I really love my mom, so much!
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. At an early age, I’ve showed a lot of interest in art, more specifically in drawing. I remember, whenever there was a nice cartoon on TV and we cannot afford to buy illustrations/stickers of characters from those cartoons, I would just draw them on a sheet of paper so I could have a remembrance of them. The same applies to my favorite Disney movies; they inspired me at a young age to draw cartoon characters and made me dream to become an animator at Disney Company someday.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. Drawings of a human figure using crayons that I drew when I was around 3 or 4 years old, and which my mom still keeps.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. Since I started competing in art competitions during primary school days, I’ve already decided that being an artist is the career I wanted to pursue. Since then, I’ve been interested in trying different mediums and exploring how else I could nurture my skills.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. 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. These qualities inspire me to use nude figure as my subject matter to deliver the theme, which is LOVE. I can say that all my artworks revolve around love as the main theme. Love has influenced my life in so many ways, that’s why I have the eagerness to capture that feeling through my artworks.
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. My goal is to create a connection between my artwork and whoever will view it. I believe that we are all connected as human beings and that we share the same emotions. I hope that the audience could see part of themselves through my artworks and hopefully it could bring them back to that triumphant and inspiring part of their lives.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. I’m too trusting of most people. I easily believe when someone tells me that he will do something for me to the point that I will adjust everything for that without having a backup plan.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. It takes me long time to finish an artwork and because of that, I need to work even on weekends and some Holidays.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. Looking back, I see all artists and artworks that cross my path as a source of inspiration. Since my childhood I have had many art Teachers and other individuals whom taught me so much and I am forever grateful to them. God however gave me this talent and thus it would be a shame not to give Him the Praise and Glory.
I believe in God, that God created everything including all the beautiful sceneries, the expressive sky and all the unique creatures, that is why I consider God as my favorite artist. Aside from everything that I can see, the main reason why God is my favorite artist is because of what God makes me feel and that is LOVE. My personal relationship with God is hard to explain. I try to speak to God every day through prayers and tell God all my desires and sins. God has seen my worst side and knows my ugliest thoughts but despite all of that I can still feel the acceptance, mercy and most especially Love from God. For me, God is Love and there’s nothing more inspiring than that.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. I’m often alone and I prefer to be alone when painting or drawing. I am always being accompanied by my dog named Coco who often sleeps on my lap or just close to me.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I really enjoy watching movies. The stories and adventures that I see in movies offer me a different type of world.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. Quality is the top priority. It doesn’t matter how many artworks you have created, as long as each piece is strong, aesthetically beautiful, excellent craftsmanship and with the concept that is well thought out.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Like any other profession, when you earn big amount of money, you will be considered as successful by most people. Selling artworks allows me to continue doing what I love to do and that is to paint. It also fulfills one of my missions which is to share my artwork to other people. For me, more than selling artworks, the freedom to paint the ideas/concepts that I like to paint is my greatest source of contentment and joy. I’m truly thankful and grateful that I’m able to follow my passion in life and for me this is the real meaning of success.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. Life has taught me that you cannot always have what you want and instead of being depressed about something you don’t have, be grateful and appreciate everything that you have. Know that you are where you should be. You are at that situation because it wants to teach you something that you need to know. All our life experiences no matter how ugly or sad have a purpose and no situation we experienced was wasted because it happened to teach us something that only that situation can bring us to that certain awareness. We must continue following our hearts and know that everything will be all right.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. It would be the advice I heard from a pastor in one of the sermons I’ve attended. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plan to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11. Everything will work out in the end.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Always try to be kind. Follow your heart. Be practical. Work hard. Never stop dreaming.