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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture

12 July 2012

The National Portrait Gallery and Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation bring a vibrant expression of Chinese culture to audiences in Canberra and Sydney with the exhibition Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture. Exhibited simultaneously at the two locations, Go Figure! is drawn from the Sigg Collection, the largest and most significant collection of contemporary Chinese art anywhere in the world.

The National Portrait Gallery and Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation bring a vibrant expression of Chinese culture to audiences in Canberra and Sydney with the exhibition Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture. Exhibited simultaneously at the two locations, Go Figure! is drawn from the Sigg Collection, the largest and most significant collection of contemporary Chinese art anywhere in the world.

Go Figure! represents a unique opportunity to see works by many of China’s leading contemporary and experimental artists in Australia. The exhibition of 55 works includes painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video and installation works by Chinese artists from 1979 to the present. Go Figure! is curated by Dr Claire Roberts, senior lecturer in art history at Adelaide University, who has had a long and active involvement with Chinese contemporary art.

Go Figure! explores Chinese artists’ use of the figure and portraiture in wide-ranging artistic experimentation. It considers the idea of play – the liberal use of humour, irony and the absurd – that is present in much experimental Chinese art. Iconic works by established artists will be displayed alongside recent works by some of China’s most exciting emerging practitioners. Artists featured in Go Figure! include Ai Weiwei , Fang Lijun, Geng Jianyi, Liu Xiaodong, Peng Yu and Sun Yuan, Shen Shaomin, Wang Guangyi, Wang Jianwei, Yin Xiuzhen, Yu Hong, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Peili and Zhang Xiaogang. During a time of significant economic and social change these artists have negotiated the complex realities of contemporary China, creating works that reflect individual narratives and respond to the restrictive and codified artistic environment of earlier periods.

Uli Sigg is a Swiss businessman, former diplomat and art collector. His collection boasts more than 2,200 artworks by 350 artists in a variety of media. Sigg began collecting in the 1990s and built the collection through regular visits to China. His early start, his presence in China as a businessman and Swiss Ambassador, and friendship with many of the artists ensured the acquisition of major works. Under a part gift/ part purchase agreement, Sigg recently donated 1,463 artworks to Hong Kong's M+ Museum which will open in 2017, part of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority development.

Go Figure! will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra from 13 September 2012 – 17 February 2013 and at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney from 15 September – 1 December 2012.

Related information

Untitled, 1995 by Fang Lijun
Untitled, 1995 by Fang Lijun
Untitled, 1995 by Fang Lijun
Untitled, 1995 by Fang Lijun

Go Figure!

Contemporary Chinese Portraiture

Previous exhibition, 2012

A vibrant expression of Chinese culture and reflection on contemporary portraiture, drawn from the Uli Sigg collection.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency