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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.

Jiawei Shen, 2006

Greg Weight

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 73.5 cm x 60.0 cm, image: 59.5 cm x 48.0 cm)

Shen Jiawei (b. 1948) was a member of the Shanghai Red Guard, made history paintings for the Chinese government and studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing before he was constrained to leave China because of a painting he made depicting heroes of the Chinese nationalist movement. He arrived in Australia in 1989, and spent three years drawing portraits at Darling Harbour. He has since become a regular Archibald finalist, and has painted commissions of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Tom Hughes QC and L Gordon Darling AC CMG for the National Portrait Gallery. 'There are two sides to my work,' he explains. 'When I came here I was nothing . . . so any commission was very exciting. But for a long time now, I've been interested in making paintings that show the big things: the world, history, great men.' To make a picture such as The Third World 2002, depicting 92 identifiable contemporary and historical figures, he spends months in the library, as well as in his studio south of Sydney. He has no plans to return to China, commenting that 'When I go back I see the worst of communism and the worst of capitalism.'

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2009

Accession number: 2009.37

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Greg Weight (age 60 in 2006)

Jiawei Shen (age 58 in 2006)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes

Gordon Darling

by Jiawei Shen

Portrait story

Gordon Darling talks about how Jiawei Shen came to paint his portrait.

Interview with Jiawei Shen video: 2 minutes
Interview with Jiawei Shen video: 2 minutes
Interview with Jiawei Shen video: 2 minutes
Interview with Jiawei Shen video: 2 minutes

Princess Mary

Portrait story

Artist Jiawei Shen describes the symbolism in his portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

L. Gordon Darling AC CMG, 2006 Jiawei Shen
L. Gordon Darling AC CMG, 2006 Jiawei Shen
L. Gordon Darling AC CMG, 2006 Jiawei Shen
L. Gordon Darling AC CMG, 2006 Jiawei Shen

Portrait of a patron

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2007

A new painting by Jiawei Shen captures the vision and resolve of the Gallery's founder, L. Gordon Darling AC CMG.

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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.