Jiawei Shen 
 
Jiawei Shen’s portraits demonstrate a masterly realism.  in all his work, he brings traditional skills to bear in the rendering surfaces, the effects of light and the appearance of depth.  Clothes, jewellery, hairstyles and the setting all tell something about the subject of a portrait, their social standing or job.  Shen aspires to represent the sitter’s inner life, their essential character and virtues, but appreciates the difficulty of depicting more than just surface appearance.  Thus, while his portraits are as realistic as a photograph, he inserts symbolic objects in his paintings that inform the viewer about the subject’s identity.

The Hon. Tom Hughes AO QC bears the symbols of the judiciary – wig, gown and briefing papers – in a pose of authority and strength.  Artist Guo Jian and Elly, seen in front of one of Jian’s paintings, are positioned to indicate their relationship to each other and to art.  They stand as artist and muse, art behind them and their association to the fore, making the studio an arena for courtship.  Another artist, George Gittoes, is known for images of humanity made in the face of war, as a witness in circumstances where there is no morality and the rules of conduct have been abandoned.  In Shen’s portrait field notes made by the artist are shown behind him so that he is part of the history, and an idol from the killing fields of Rwanda is cast down at his feet.  The artist sees and records.

Jiawei Shen’s portrait of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark hangs in the Oatley Gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guo Jian and Elly by Jiawei Shen

Jaiwei Shen
Guo Jian and Elly 1998
Collection of the Artist

Eyewitness (George Gittoes) by Jiawei Shen

Jaiwei Shen
Eyewitness (George Gittoes) 1997
Collection of the Artist

Truth and Likeness: 25 November 2006 - 8 April 2007
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