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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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Jiawei Shen

2004
R. Ian Lloyd

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 51.7 cm x 60.7 cm, image: 35.3 cm x 53.0 cm)

Jiawei Shen (b. 1948), artist, was born in China in 1948 and began to gain recognition as a painter during the Cultural Revolution. Largely self-taught at first, he eventually studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, where he became strongly influenced by his teacher Shangyi, China’s most famous portraitist. Shen became a specialist in history paintings, many of which he produced for public collections. One picture, however – a depiction of heroes of the Chinese nationalist movement – necessitated his departure from China in 1989. His wife, artist Lan Wang, was pregnant when he left; it was two years before they were reunited in Sydney, where Shen met their daughter Xini for the first time. Having started out making sketches of passers-by at Darling Harbour, Shen is now a much sought-after portraitist, a regular Archibald finalist and has created work for clients such as the Vatican and Parliament House. He 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. 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.' Shen and Wang both live and work in Bundeena, south of Sydney.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of R. Ian Lloyd 2010
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© R Ian Lloyd/Copyright Agency, 2021

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

R. Ian Lloyd (age 51 in 2004)

Jiawei Shen (age 56 in 2004)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

R. Ian Lloyd (5 portraits)

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

by Jiawei Shen

Portrait story

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

Princess Mary

Portrait story

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

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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