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Andy Leleisi’uao, paints new myths for the Pacific

Andy Leleisi'uao, Carousel of Cryptid AbanimalsWhitespace Gallery, AucklandUntil April 25thThe works in Andy Leleisi'uao's latest exhibition derive stylistically from a number of sources including the pictogram works of John Pule and the strip works of Sh

John Daly-Peoples
Mon, 12 Apr 2010

Andy Leleisi’uao, Carousel of Cryptid Abanimals
Whitespace Gallery, Auckland
Until April 25th

The works in Andy Leleisi’uao’s latest exhibition derive stylistically from a number of sources including the pictogram works of John Pule and the strip works of Shane Cotton. They also have resonances with many earlier narrative based art works such as Egyptian paintings, Greek Vases, Medieval and Renaissance fresco cycles as well as traditional Samoan siapo work.

Like much of the siapo work he employs grids which divide up the canvas, allowing for the inclusion of ladders and tiered box shapes and Rubik cubes.

Traditional siapo uses a number of emblems or symbols, some of which are easily identified and create a long-established story, others have less identifiable meaning and allow for more wide-ranging narratives or interpretations.

While a few of his earlier works referred to the style and symbolism of siapo his new show manages to incorporate these in an experimental and refined way.

Over the years the artist’s works has become more complex and the current exhibition is a long way from his early works where his angry paintings and constructions were almost visceral in their intensity.

He is now producing a sophisticated body of work which explores the nature of individual, social, political and religious corruption.

Half of the works consist of ten bands which depict stories and events. They are generalized narratives which can be interpreted as myths, metaphors or personal journeys. Each of the bands feature a dozen or more figures engaged in a range of activities and acts. There are creation myths, notions of gods, of planting and harvest, journeys, labouring, loving and death. Some of the groups could be interpreted as the trinity or the three graces, others as monsters of the prehistory or our nightmares.

A glowing red shape which features in a number of the works and can be read as fire, blood, a jewel or the heart. So its inclusion can be seen as something of a Promethean myth on the theft or discovery of fire. That same glowing image can be seen as a metaphor for the creation of art or the nature of love.

In addition to the large Carousel of Cryptid Abanimals works each priced at $4500 there are some smaller works also titled Carousel of Cryptid Abanimals which are priced at $1200.

These smaller works have only have a few bands of narrative but a more open approach in which the same elements interact. Some of them also include a swathe of blue which is an abstracted band of water.

Cryptids are the animals of myth and legend, Abanimals may well be a corruption of absurd or abstract animals




John Daly-Peoples
Mon, 12 Apr 2010
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Andy Leleisi’uao, paints new myths for the Pacific