Andy Leleisi’uao grew up in Mangere, South Auckland. His work is reflective of his experience as a New Zealand-born Samoan.
Andy 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.
In the late 1990s, Andy was awarded residencies at the Casula Powerhouse in Sydney, the MacMillian Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury, in 2009 the Asia NZ Foundation/Taipei Artist Village and recently McCahon House, Titirangi, 2010. During these residencies Andy further developed works critiquing social, cultural, and political stereotypes and realities of Samoans in New Zealand from a New Zealand-born Samoan perspective.
His unique iconography included such symbols as sockets that have been imprinted on the foreheads of struggling Samoan factory worker migrants in his Mangere community. Some works condemn abuse within the Samoan community as well as hypocrisy by church leaders. However, there is also a playful and hopeful side to his work which can be seen in through his Ufological paintings, a series of fantasy villages on an island where villagers ride moa and climb over hearts while spaceships import megalithic moai from Rapanui. Whether he is confronting the issues of Samoan diaspora or narratives of 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.