Painting Mark Occhilupos SurfScape

Painting Mark Occhilupos SurfScape

Mark climbed out of the infinity pool at The Four Seasons in the Maldives. His hair still matted together and his face covered in zinc. He’d just taken the single fin division of the Four Seasons Surfing Champions trophy that day, and was having a quiet chat with his wife Mae.
I asked him if now was a good time to talk about his SurfScape. “Sure, Louis, why not?” came the friendly reply.

I immediately liked Mark as we sat and chatted together, looking out across the pool and the Indian Ocean. I was struck by how down to earth he was. So matter of fact and straight talking. I couldnt sense any hidden agenda, any edge or side to what he was saying.

“So Mark, imagine for a moment you have the perfect work of art, it completely does it for you. It captures your perfect surfing experience…what do you feel as you look at the piece?”, I asked.

He paused, “You know, surfing is very spiritual for me. Whenever I step into the ocean, as my feet touch the water, I always take two steps back out of respect. And as I paddle out, sometimes I’ll let the waves push me back and if it’s sucking out, I’ll walk with it. And when I’m out there, I let the water push me to where she wants me. I don’t fight the waves; I get in sync with them. That’s when you feel mother nature calling you.”

He pauses and reflects, as thought looking back over his acclaimed surfing career, “I respect the ocean because it’s given me so much.”

I said, “I’d been chatting with one of the other competitors earlier in the day and he said to ask you about mana. Tell me about mana.”

He smiles, and then looks straight at me.

“Mana is energy, surfing energy. It’s like spirit or soul. Only a pure Hawaiian can tell you if you have it. Once I was walking down the beach after an epic surf in Hawaii and this guy stopped me. I was in my own world. I didn’t even know who he was. He said. “You have mana” and then he carried on walking. It’s a big honour. I was really stoked!”I asked him when was his favourite time to surf.”I’m an early riser and I love to surf one hour before light. I get up at 3.30am or 4am, go for a run, do some yoga and then surf. I love the first crack of light, it gets me excited, especially when you see that first break of light over the mountains.””Tell me about your perfect wave”, I said.

“Well, obviously I love to get barrelled and get right into the tube; that goes without saying. But you know what, I love surfing the whitewash back to the beach too. I love it all! I really love Hawaii, it’s probably my favourite place with so much positive energy. I love the barrel there and when the waves hit the rocks, its sprays up in a huge “V” shape. You know, you should check out the pictures of Sato. There’s an amazing picture sphere and you can see the face of a Polynesian god in the wave; it’s just beautiful. Take a look.”

So how would you want your Surfscape to make you feel?

“I’d want to stare into it and drift off. I just feel so blessed and lucky after a surf. I’d want to feel the mana in it and I’d want it to remind me that I’m one with the ocean.”

“Tell me more about mana. When you think about it, does it have a colour?”, I asked.

He closes his eyes for a second, “Orange, it’s orange. Just like that first light of day. There’s yellowish blue tones too, like the colours in the sunrise. But I love the electric blues too. I’ve also got some awesome pictures that…… took of me getting barralled. They are just amazing, I’ll send them to you.”

On receiving the Surfscape, his eyes are wide.

“Louis this is just amazing! I LOVE it. Thank you so much. I’m stoked.”

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