Andy Leleisi’uao is a renowned New Zealand artist from Samoan heritage. As an artist, Andy looks to the future and in doing so, he observes, engages and interprets processes of living and project it into the spiritual building of an alternative world full of existential (de)connectivity and profound harmony. For Cuba Dupa, Andy exhibited his rastered paintings on exotic animals (Rhino, Lion, Elephant and Giraffe) and painted these creatures out of fear that these creatures might go extinct in the coming decades. Being able to show documents and personal accounts of these animals could one day be a sign of immense power and privilege. These two paintings were accompanied by the painting "Quaint people of Nuanua", one of his most seminal works and very decisive for the transition to his current visual language.In his prophetic undertones, this artwork started his humanistic quest to remind us to take care of (y)our existence and for everything that lives and moves.
From this series on, of which there are only three paintings (others in Wallace collection and Auckland Art Gallery) the visual artist let go of a conditioned sociocultural identity and delivered an intellectual expression of choices and conflicts rhythmically reflecting the industry of living in (de)constructed netherworlds. The mind’s eye is aspirated into enigma’s and secrets which ontologically thematize notions of being(s), so universal that they transcend culture, gender, race and ideology. Before this work, the New Zealand artist was presumed to speak for a lost generation. Since then, Mr. Leleisi’uao cultivates his own graphic language and overloads our sense of sight with universal fantasies about compassion, integration, participation and unification. This is a seminal painting of one of New Zealand’s most accomplished painters because it was a departure work as well as being an arrival piece towards his visual vocation.
In his crowded paintings full of activity Leleisi'uao is alternatively expressing the spirits urge to self-understanding. These objects and beings render the freedom of this new spirit, externalized in a new world, visible to an audience. But his aim is not to imitate nature, decorate our surroundings, prompt us to engage in moral or political action or simply shock us. In contrast, Andy allows us to contemplate and enjoy created images of our own spiritual freedom projected upon an imaginary world negotiating with its own utopian construction.
This painting started Andy’s allegorical storytelling: a species constantly searching, making social gestures, moving, thinking and constructing, revealing in all mysterious grotesqueness that the final part of this jigsaw puzzle called life is self-evident: “be free but have love for oneself and show some love for the other”. The artist recognizes that our being human is invested not simply in our existence as individuals or as physical beings but also in our collective existence as social beings. Our ability, as social beings, to rise above our individual physical selves and to see ourselves as part of a larger project, to project onto the world, and onto human life, a meaning or purpose that exists only because we as human beings create it. In this sense, he is formulating a critique that we have largely given up on spirituality in a craving for freedom that all too often places individual desires above the common search for meaning.
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