Creating a world of his own

Saturday November 02, 2019 Written by Published in Entertainment
Andy Leleisi’uao. 19103106/ 19103107/ 19103108/ 19103109/ 19103110 Andy Leleisi’uao. 19103106/ 19103107/ 19103108/ 19103109/ 19103110

A new series painted in New York City has taken painter Andy Leleisi’uao on a new journey. Anneka Brown meets him ahead of his show’s opening in Rarotonga.


For more than 10 years, renowned artist Andy Leleisi’uao’s paintings have depicted worlds and communities that reflect ideas in Pacific society.

Leleisi’uao’s upcoming exhibition at Bergman Gallery follows a community in which he depicts the jigsaw-headed people as being sick of the negative aspects of humanity – so they create their own world.

Some of the images have arms coming out of different parts of the body which speaks to the idea that it doesn’t matter what you look like, all that matters is what is on the inside.

Leleisi’uao’s series of works often tell many stories and are organised in puzzles and mysteries of floating objects, upside down figures and beastly creatures.

“The magic of art is that it transcends logic and location,” says Leleisi’uao.

He has been a highly successful in his career with some earlier painting exploring his family's diaspora to New Zealand.

His art convention of painted silhouettes of people draws on Samoan siapa cloth, Stone Age rock art, classical Greek vase painting and Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Leleisi’uao remembers the five weeks it took to paint just one canvas for this series he did in New York.

“You are working as an artist, just not in a conventional way. You have to stay true to yourself and stay alert and aware of what’s happening around you,” he says.

There is art everywhere: you can find it just sitting at the bus stop and watching people go by.

Leleisi’uao explains the way art can transform a person and the spiritual satisfaction he gains which motivates him to be a good person and share that goodness with his family and friends.

“If you look after your work, your work will look after you,” he says.

Gallery owner Ben Bergman has represented Andy for a decade.

“This series of work came to mean a great deal to me,” Bergman says.

“It signified a journey that we have embarked on together in 2008 that included an unlikely art destination of Rarotonga and the summit of pop /contemporary art culture in New York.”

Bergman adds: “It became an affirmation of a platform that we both believe in – to elevate modern Pacific art to a global level.”

·        Andy Leleisi’uao’s ‘A Diasporic Pulse of Faith & Patience' opens at Bergman Gallery on Monday and runs through to February 15 next year. This series of work was produced in New York City in 2018, when Andy was on residency with the International Studio & Curatorial Program.



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