Iosefa Leo

Marlborough based sculptor Iosefa Tupuana’i Leo was born in Letogo, Samoa, and taught hi

 Iosefa Leo, 'Oli oli - Joyful'

'Oli oli - Joyful' 2004

mself to carve while living in Auckland in the late 1980s. He has regularly exhibited since then and has become a prominent figurative sculptor in New Zealand.

Iosefa carves predominately in limestone, marble and wood. He is mainly interested in conveying depth of feeling and the physicality of the human form. Details of expression, gesture and texture are important in the completion of a work, as is a finely finished surface. Iosefa has an excellent, intuitive understanding of form, and also a great respect for the entablature of the block. The sculptures have an easy monumentality with his ability to simplify from reality without loosing the power of observation and sensitivity. 

Samoan life, traditions and family values have been a big influence on Iosefa Leo and his earlier work reflects this. Recently the sculptures have become more expressive of universal themes, such as contemplation, prayer, joy and the strength of spirituality. A continuing sense of reverence graces all his works, allowing the viewer a sense of calm and Pacific vitality.

 Iosefa Leo, 'Tusi o le Avatu ma 'Aumai'

'Tusi o le Avatu ma 'Aumai'  (Book of Giving and Receiving). 1999



Currently Iosefa is establishing a sculpture garden featuring large works in wood and stone in Marlborough. He participates regularly in sculpture symposia and is available for commissions.







Te Papa Tongarewa; Samoan Govt. Museum, Apia
Jean Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Noumea, New Caledonia
Dowse Art Gallery; Auckland Institute of Technology
Millennium Public Art Gallery, Blenheim Manawatu Art Gallery and Museum Private collections in New Zealand, England, Hong Kong


AMBA, Icons of New Zealand. 1994.Wellington.
Speaking in Colour, Mallon and Pereira (editors),
Christ for all People; celebrating Christian Art, O’Grady (editor).


  Iosefa Leo, 'Tama ma Lana Taufui Niu'

'Tama ma Lana Taufui Niu' (Man and his Bunch of Coconuts) 1998