Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


The Contemporary Pacific
Volume 24, Number 1, Spring 2012, pp. vii

About The Artist: Andy Leleisi‘uao

In March 2010, Andy Leleisi‘uao was unable to attend the opening of Manuia, a group exhibition in New York, and offered this statement to be read in his absence. It was not read out, but it symbolizes the honesty in his work:

In 2004, the Asia Society and Museum exhibited Paradise Now? To some degree it was a sugarcoated affair positioning and assembling artists from the Pacific region to showcase a West ern notion of contemporary Pacific art. The artists and artworks have stood the test of time but there has been no forecast of a return show for several years now. So, was Paradise Now? a one-off novelty exhibition, a sterilized concoction to satisfy curatorial obligations and validate institutionalized consciousness? Manuia is not a one-off tokenism exhibition. These works are not from savages in grass skirts to appease savages in red, white and blue clothes. They simply reflect a world within our world.

Leleisi‘uao's early work reflected the realities of Samoans in New Zealand, through his own iconography such as sockets imprinted on foreheads (as in the self-portrait here). Today his work transcends into a silhouette world of cryptid creatures composed from daily observations of his community and explores more universal complexities of our inter-cultural world. He is an artist of innate political and social commentary who finds comfort at "16 Ventura Street, Mangere. This is where I've spent most of my life, and for one reason or another I always end up here. It's where my parents and sister live and kids come to stay. I don't need a studio, to be seen at art openings or be told I'm a good artist. I just need to know I'm a good son and father and the rest will follow."


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