Born in 1969, Andy Leleisi’uao grew up in Mangere, South Auckland. He was awarded a scholarship to attend AUT and received a Master of Fine Arts with honours in 2002. He has exhibited throughout New Zealand and has been involved in solo and group exhibitions in Australia, Rarotonga, Germany, Taiwan, and the USA.
Leleisi’uao was awarded residencies at the Casula Powerhouse in Sydney and the MacMillian Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury in the late 1990s. In 2009 he received the Asia NZ Foundation/Taipei Artist Village residency, and the McCahon House residency in Titirangi, 2010. Most recently, Leleisi’uao was the paramount winner of the 2017 Wallace Art Award receiving a 6 month residency in New York.
Leleisi’uao’s paintings are rich with personalised mythology as he presents subject matter that creates more questions than answers. His unique iconography includes power sockets imprinted on foreheads, rainbow haloes in the sky, surreal animals, Rubik’s Cubes and puzzle pieces. His early work was influenced by comic strips and narrative is an important aspect to his practice. Although his work has referenced social problems, there is a fantastical element in Leleisi’uao’s 2015 exhibition ‘Quaint People of Nuanua’. Here he investigates life and the after-life through a series of Bosch-like sci-fi village scenes. Whether he is confronting social issues or investigating human and family relationships, “Andy’s prescient talent for seeing who we are, what we are like and what we do is a signature of his art.” (Ron Brownson 2009)
Andy Leleisi’uao’s work is included in the permanent collections of Pataka Museum and Art Gallery, Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, the Chartwell Collection, the Wallace Arts Trust collection, Casula Powerhouse, Sydney and the Museum of Ethnography, Frankfurt, Germany.