ARC ONE is delighted to present Chivalry, an exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, Guan Wei.
An opening reception will be held on Wednesday 14 November, 6-8pm, with opening remarks by Claire Roberts.
Guan Wei is a storyteller. Throughout his more than 30-year art practice, his distinctive style
has combined Australian and Chinese influences to weave profound narratives of loss, migration, identity, colonisation, and place. Working across painting, sculpture and installation, he merges eastern and western philosophies, art histories, eras and empires, signs and symbols, to create imaginary cross-cultural realms that explore contemporary issues and hopes for a better world.
Guan Wei’s latest exhibition at ARC ONE Gallery presents three bodies of work: Chivalry, a suite of paintings laden with philosophical meaning; Mascot, playful bronze sculptures depicting humorously anthropomorphised mythical creatures; and the monumental Treasure Hunt, a major new tapestry woven by the Australian Tapestry Workshop.
In Chivalry, Guan Wei examines ideas of honour and virtue through a series of theatrical tableaux inspired by the Middle Ages. “I have been seeking new directions in my painting for many years”, says the artist, “exploring new possibilities and making breakthroughs from my existing style toward new territory. Quite unexpectedly, reading and learning about the knights of the Middle Ages was a turning point in me. I was mesmerised by their stories.” Utilising the flowing rhythm of Eastern ink painting, calligraphy, and sketching, Guan Wei brings the realm of medieval fantasy to life. Noble jousts, sword-fights, romantic adventures, and heroic gestures, play out across his canvases evoking ideals and values that were once used to navigate lives. In the face of increasing alienation, digitalisation, virtual reality, and global change, Chivalry invites us to reflect on our humanity.
Woven by Chris Cochius, Pamela Joyce, Jennifer Sharpe and Cheryl Thornton from the Australian Tapestry Workshop, Treasure Hunt is inspired by a large painted mural from Guan Wei’s exhibition Other Histories at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney in 2006. Drawing on Chinese and European mythologies, the work considers ‘other’ histories and the intersection of Indigenous and colonial cultural narratives. Through the depiction of the oceans, islands and desert interiors, Guan Wei references navigation, exploration, migration and the influence of, and response to, globalisation.
Guan Wei was born 1957, Beijing, China, and lives and works in Beijing and Sydney. He has won many awards, including the 2015 Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize, Bendigo Art Gallery; Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2002; and was selected for the prestigious 2009 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award, National Gallery of Victoria. Solo exhibitions include: Cosmotheoria, White Box Art Center 798 Art District Beijing, 2017; Guan. Perspective, Scene Sense Art Gallery, Beijing, 2017; Salvation, ARC ONE Gallery 2016; 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: The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes exhibition, AGNSW, Sydney, 2017; Closing the Distance, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, Bundoora, Victoria, 2017; 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.
In 2019 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, will present a major installation of Guan Wei’s work, which will include his 18-metre-long multi-panelled painting, Feng Shui, and works from the MCA collection.