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INTRODUCTION: Professor Jing Han
The Institute for Australian and Chinese Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University supports cultural and artistic diversity. One of our commitments is to champion young artists of culturally diverse backgrounds through special exhibitions and community engagement. We are therefore delighted to partner with Bankstown Arts Centre in presenting this joint exhibition Cultural Cartography: Creating Art at the Intersection of Cultures featuring NC Qin, Christina Huynh, Anney Bounpraseuth, Chris Yee and Dr Cindy Yuen-Zhe Chen. These five very fine and gifted young artists all come from migrant families, and showcasing their devotion to artistic creativity and their early successes as young artists is both uplifting and inspiring.
To give these emerging artists the opportunity of working with a role model, we have specially engaged Australian art legend Guan Wei to curate the exhibition. Guan Wei himself is a migrant, and has recently been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Creative Arts by Western Sydney University in recognition of his long-standing and exceptional contributions to the Australian and international contemporary art scenes. Dr Guan Wei is the first Chinese Australian artist to receive such an honour from an Australian university.
In this exhibition, you will see that all five artists draw from their respective cultural backgrounds resulting in artworks that are unique, distinctive and impactful. NC Qin is a glass sculptor of Chinese background. In her works, she explores ancient histories, Chinese myths and Daoism through a cultural perspective that has been shaped by both Western and Eastern influences. Christina is a muralist and illustrator of Vietnamese-Chinese heritage. She finds inspiration in storytelling, human emotion, wayfaring and the legacy of people and place. Anney is an artist of Laotian heritage. In her paintings and textile works, she reinterprets matriarchal traditions, asserts self-determined identity and explores new purpose in life. Chris is a multitalented artist working as an illustrator, designer and animator. His creative work is greatly influenced by the Chinese, Korean and Australian cultures he has grown up with in suburban Sydney. Cindy received her PhD in art, design and media from the University of New South Wales in 2020. Her artistic practice is framed within the context of the agency of her Malaysian-Chinese heritage in shaping her relationships within Australia and around the world.
You are warmly invited to join us in celebrating these young creative minds and their works, which contemplate on and reflect the diversity, complexity and dynamics of contemporary humanities and lifestyles in Australian society.
Curator: Dr Guan Wei
Guan Wei graduated from the Department of Fine Arts at Beijing Capital University in 1986. From 1989 to1992, he completed art residencies at the University of Tasmania, Australian National University and Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. In1993, he immigrated to Australia. In 2008, Guan Wei set up a studio in Beijing. He now lives and works in Beijing and Sydney.Guan Wei has held more then 70 solo exhibitions in Australia and internationally, and has been included in many important international contemporary exhibitions, such as the Shanghai Biennial, China; the 10th Havana Biennial, Cuba; the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Australia; the 3rd Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Australia; the Osaka Triennial, Japan; and the Gwangju Biennial, South Korea. He has been awarded in many art competitions, including: 2002 Sulman Prize at Art Gallery of NSW; 2015 Arthur Guy Memorial Prize, and Bendigo Art Gallery in Victoria.
Guan Wei’s work has a profoundly felt, if implicitly ironic, moral dimension. In their complex symbolic form, his subjects potently embody current social and environmental dilemmas. They are equally the product of his rich cultural repertory of symbols and his informed socio-political awareness and art-historical knowledge.
Cultural Cartography: Creating Art at the Intersection of Cultures
Joint Exhibition at Institute for Australian and Chinese Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University & Bankstown Art Centre from 13 January to 24 February 2022
German physicist Werner Heisenberg, one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics, states in his influential book Physics and Philosophy that “in the history of human thinking the most fruitful developments frequently take place at those points where two different lines of thought meet. These lines may have their roots in quite different parts of human culture, in different times or different cultural environments or different religious traditions”. A similar remark was made by the late Australian art critic Robert Hughes, who observed that some of the most interesting phenomena in history and arts have occurred at the intersection of cultures.
It is interesting to note that one statement is made in the field of science, and the other in the arts. Both Heisenberg and Hughes arrived at the same conclusion that new creation and innovation often happen at the intersection of two or more different thoughts and cultures.
In the last twenty years or so, this intersection of different cultures has become a critical base for cultural creation and innovation in multicultural Australia, as particularly demonstrated in the artistic expressions of second generation artists of Chinese and Asian heritage. While they grew up and have been educated in mainstream Western culture, these artists have also learnt and have been greatly influenced by their cultural heritage. From the vantage point of seeing both cultures from their individual perspectives, they have the knowledge, capability and confidence to bring out some of the most interesting or distinctive parts from both cultures and integrate them into their own unique artistic creations and styles.
This second generation of artists focus on the diversity, complexity and dynamics of contemporary humanities and lifestyles. Their artworks reflect their strong interest in and sharp thoughts of the present-day human conditions, expressing their concerns, anxieties, pain, joy and pleasure of the world they are living in. In the meantime, they have achieved a unique infusion of the two cultures they grew up with, articulated in a great variety of artistic media and genres. They have many things in common including their passion for and commitment to innovative expressions. Yet they are also clearly marked by their individual styles and pursuits.