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Inaugural China Studies Centre conference explores art, history, culture and more


5 December 2012

Part of 'Brothers and Sisters (Part I): Revolution' by Shen Jiawei, oil on canvas, 198 x 137cm x 6 panels, 2010-2012.
Part of 'Brothers and Sisters (Part I): Revolution' by Shen Jiawei, oil on canvas, 198 x 137cm x 6 panels, 2010-2012.

Two spectacular paintings by the Chinese Australian artist Shen Jiawei that fuse European and Chinese history will open the inaugural annual conference for the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney tonight, Wednesday 5 December.

To be held in the Everest Foyer at the Seymour Centre, Shen Jiawei's epic painting, Revolution, is an enormous 198 x 137cm x 6 panels and depicts more than 300 mainly communist figures active in Chinese public life from the summer of 1936 to the summer of 1937.

Revolution forms part one of a series called Brothers and Sisters with part two and three to be finished in the next three years. The eight-metre long Revolution is a pictorial representation of Solzhenitsyn's Red Wheel (a series of novels that retell the demise of Imperial Russia and the birth of the Soviet Union), but features Chinese subjects.

Shen's historical artworks mine a deeply potent era in 20th century European history, both in politics and art.

For example, the second painting in the exhibition, Spain 1937, depicts a group portrait of eminent intellectuals and artists who participated in the Spanish Civil War, including George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Neruda. In a playful touch the group is seated in a car painted in the style of Picasso's renowned painting of the civil war era, Guernica.

'Spain 1937' by Shen Jiawei, oil on canvas, 220 x 300cm, 2011-2012.
'Spain 1937' by Shen Jiawei, oil on canvas, 220 x 300cm, 2011-2012.

Shen Jiawei was born in Shanghai in 1948 and moved to Australia in 1989. He now lives south of Sydney in Bundeena. His portraits have been selected 13 times for the Archibald Prize, his portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, and his works are represented in the top public collections in China including the National Art Gallery and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, both in Beijing.

Following the opening Shen Jiawei will discuss his paintings with University of Sydney academics Professor David Goodman, Academic Director of the China Studies Centre, and Professor Jeffrey Riegel, Head of the School of Languages and Cultures.


Event details

What: Shen Jiawei's exhibition Brothers and Sisters Part one. Discussion with Shen Jiawei with Professor David Goodman and Professor Jeffrey Riegel after the official opening

When: 5.30pm, Wednesday 5 December. Exhibition goes until 17 December

Where: Everest Foyer, Seymour Centre, corner of Cleveland Street and City Road, Chippendale. See map and directions 

RSVP essential for catering purposes 


Other conference events

The inaugural annual conference for the China Studies Centre will explore aspects in China studies, including culture, business, archaeology, technology, Chinese traditional medicine, international relations, art, environmental studies, social and political changes as well as China-India relations.

In conjunction with Sydney Ideas the conference will comprise three keynote speakers:


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Media enquiries: Shuxia Chen, 02 9116 1144, 0416 738 864, shuxia.chen@sydney.edu.au

Jacqueline Chowns, 02 9036 5404, 0434 605 018, jacqueline.chowns@sydney.edu.au