Drawing together threads from such disparate sources as Stone Age rock art, classical Greek vase painting, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Samoan siapa cloth, Andy Leleisi’uao speaks with a distinctive visual language. His layered worlds suggest multiple mythologies and show a community populated by rainbow-headed people and Bosch-like beasts. More akin to a hive than a hierarchy, the industrious beings who people Leleisi’uao’s canvases are linked in an undefined common purpose: groups work together carrying and lifting, individuals sit in thought or prayer, or spring and soar with a sense of joy. The world they inhabit is ‘multi-storied’ in both the figurative and narrative sense.
Leleisi’uao often paints in series and seen together, the paintings may be viewed as an extended narrative; taken individually, each painting provides an intimate view of a world that is at once alien and very familiar. Recurring motifs throughout the works provide visual touchstones for viewers and remind us of the inherent humanity of his creatures, and the universality of their struggle and endeavour within a limited existence.
Andy Leleisi’uao lives in Auckland and in 2000 he was the first recipient of AUT School of Art and Design Pasifika Scholarship, gaining a Master of Fine Arts with Honours in 2002. Residencies within New Zealand include a Research Scholarship, at the University of Canterbury’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies and the McCahon House Artists’ Residency; international residencies have taken him to Rarotonga, Taiwan, and Bridge Guard in Slovakia (2013). In 2017 he was the paramount winner at the 26th annual Wallace Art Awards.
Leleisi’uao has exhibited throughout New Zealand and has been involved in solo and group exhibitions in Australia, Rarotonga, Germany, Taiwan, and the United States of America. His work is included in the permanent collections of Pataka Museum and Art Gallery, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the Auckland Art Gallery, the Chartwell Collection, and the James Wallace Arts Trust collection.