GUAN WEI has a significant international reputation as a contemporary artist whose work crosses cultural and political borders, specifically between Australia and Asia. A Chinese national who migrated to Australia in 1989, his practice which spans more than 30 years draws on his personal experience of both Chinese and Australian culture, as well as an informed socio-political awareness and knowledge of art history. With a consummate ability to create work at once light in tone and profound in message, his prolific creative output has consistently examined complex social issues underpinned by humility and a deep respect for humanity. Across painting, sculpture and installation, his work conveys profound stories of loss, migration, identity, and notions of boundaries and place, interweaving an understanding of tradition and the past in the face of overwhelming global change today.
Guan WeiI was born 1957, Beijing, China. In 1989, three years after graduating from the Department of Fine Arts at Beijing Capital University, he came to Australia to take up an artist-in-residence at the Tasmanian School of Art. He was invited to undertake two further residencies: one at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (1992), the other at the Canberra School of Art, Australian National University (1993). Since then he obtained many grants, including Australia Council’s grant for Greene St New York studio in 2003, Cite International des Arts Paris in 2007 & Fellowship in 2008-2009. In 2008 he set up a studio in Beijing. Now he lives and works in both Beijing and Sydney.
Guan Wei has won many awards, including the 2015 Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2002 Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and was selected for the prestigious 2009 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award, National Gallery of Victoria. Solo exhibitions include: Cosmotheoria, White Box Art Centre, Beijing: Salvation, ARC ONE Gallery, 2014; Archaeology, ARC ONE Gallery, 2014; Spellbound, He Xiang Ning Art Museum, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen, China, 2011; The Enchantment, ARC ONE Gallery, 2012; Other histories: Guan Wei’s fable for a contemporary world, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 2006–07; Looking, Greene St Studio, New York, 2003; Zen Garden, Sherman Contemporary, Sydney, 2000; and Nesting, or the Art of Idleness 1989–1999, MCA, Sydney, 1999.
Major group exhibitions include: Closing the Distance, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, Bundoora, Victoria; Borders, Barriers, Walls, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2016; Collaborative Witness: Artists responding to the plight of the refugee, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, 2011; Shanghai Biennial, Shanghai Museum, China, 2010; 10th Havana Biennial, Cuba, 2009; The China Project, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2009; Handle with Care, Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Adelaide, 2008; Face Up: Contemporary Art from Australia, Hamburger Bahnhof Museum, Berlin, 2003–04; Sulman Prize Exhibition, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 2002; Osaka Triennial, Japan, 2001; Man and Space, Kwangju Biennale, South Korea, 2000; Third Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1999. Key collections include: Art Gallery of New South Wales; Art Gallery of South Australia; Art Bank, BHP Billiton Collection; Contemporary Art and Culture Centre, Osaka, Japan; Deutsche Bank; Ian Potter Museum, Melbourne; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China. Guan Wei’s works feature in the collections of numerous important institutions both in Australia and abroad.