Emmanuel x Anton


Finding the courage to create your own reality 

For advocate Emmanuel Asante, the journey from Africa to Australia was one shaped by struggle, self-determination, and the resolve to persevere. Despite being discouraged to pursue art, Emmanuel found comfort in painting and this drive to create not only helped him to recover from depression but also recreate his life as an artist.

Through colour, shade and symbolism fellow artist Anton narrates Emmanuel’s journey on to canvas in his painting ‘Fortitude’. A testament to the power of the arts to heal and the courage within us to triumph over adversity.

Emmanuel Asanate (he/him)

Coming to Australia, I was told life would be easy because Australia is a land of opportunity. Little did I know that things are not handed to you on silver platter. I was asked to find a job and school at the same time. I was on temporary visa so I wasn’t eligible for any government benefits and I did not have any experience therefore companies wouldn’t hire me.

Life was tough. I saved the little I had so that I could send money home to Africa. Art was my escape from reality. Practicing my art was the only thing that brought me comfort and yet I was asked to stop making art because art is not seen to provide a reliable source of income. However, I persevered. I started by going to art galleries, art shows and found myself mentors who guided me through my artistic journey.

Anton Pulvirenti (he/him)

This portrait of Emmanuel has been a personal journey for both of us. It depicts his life’s journey in both figurative and abstract terms through intuitive interplays between shape and colour.

The painting hints at different psychological states, times and places in Emmanuel’s story. With Emmanuel’s journey being the multi-layered and complex experience that it is, it called for an intuitive working process. I had no real plan and I waited for the painting itself to tell me what to do. It was initially difficult, like many situations in life, so I sat with the subject matter and waited for it to reveal a direction. Gradually, as the process continued, the painting defined itself naturally.


Act as if what you do makes a difference.

The key message I want the community to take away after viewing this creative expression and learning about my experience is that everything is possible if you have a clear goal. Even impossible says “I’m possible”. Life can be a struggle but don’t let your struggles or the naysayers stop you from going after your dreams and goals. Prove the people who did not believe in you, wrong, and the people who did believe in you, right.


The collab

It was a lot of information to take in, and I did not know how to respond initially. I began to look at Ghana’s history and other images to get an initial handle on how to respond. We met up and I posed Emmanuel in a series of poses that could express his strength in the face of adversity.

The shapes inside the flannel shirt became markers for his life in Australia and hinted at the role of colour and shape in Emmanuel’s own work. The brightness and high-keyed colour contrast of these shapes hinted at the complexity of Emmanuel’s experience while emphasizing his triumph over struggle. I hope that this painting will inspire Emmanuel. It certainly has inspired me and will be a springboard for more works in the future.


It was one of the best experiences I have had in my life. As an artist, I always draw and paint people. I did not know how it felt to be drawn or painted until Anton painted my portrait. I was speechless the first time I saw the painting. I felt honoured to be painted by one of my mentors. I will forever cherish this artwork.


Emmanuel Asanate (he/him)

A lover of literature, poetry, song, novels, movies, K-drama and anime, Emmanuel hopes to combat the stigma surrounding mental health, particularly for young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. An artist himself, Emmanuel was inspired at a young age by his visual arts teacher and has since been the recipient of the 2019 Young Achievement Award in Creative Arts, and the 2019 Young Achiever Award (African Australian Awards).

Anton Pulvirenti (he/him)

Based on the NSW Central Coast, Anton has worked as an independent professional artist for over ten years. Having trained at several art schools and studied under the Sicilian folk painting maestro, Felice Scire, Anton has completed numerous public art commissions including 3D pavement art. He has also competed in the International Maddonnari Chalk Festival – a 24 hour continuous street drawing event.

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Visible is a movement initiated by the Australian Youth Advocates for Mental Health (AYAMH), co-ordinated by headspace and guided by 9 National Mental Health organisations.

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