Ah Xian: Heavy Wounds
Ah Xian, China/Australia b.1960 / Heavy wounds series no.10 1991 / Oil on canvas / Gift of Nicholas Jose and Claire Roberts through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2008. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
Ah Xian / Heavy wounds series no.5 1991 / Oil on canvas / Gift of the artist through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2012. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
29 March – 28 September 2014
Watermall, Queensland Art Gallery (QAG)
Daily: 10.00am – 5.00pm
This exhibition presents an important suite of early paintings by Chinese-born Australian artist Ah Xian. Generously gifted to the Gallery by the artist and donors, these works largely draw on the iconography of socialist realist first aid posters from China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and convey experiences of trauma and the process of healing.
The ‘Heavy Wounds’ series (1991) represents a formative period for one of Australia’s most prominent contemporary artists. Based on socialist realist posters distributed by the Chinese government during the Cultural Revolution, these are some of the earliest works created by Ah Xian after he migrated to Australia. The paintings express his feelings of isolation and trauma, particularly following the June 4 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.
Featuring instructions on how to bandage wounds and prevent illness and disease, the paintings repurpose socialist realist imagery in response to the victims of the violent events. ‘Heavy Wounds’ constitutes a point between key stages in Ah Xian’s career, leading to a broad interest in the cultural traditions of his Chinese heritage, as expressed in his signature sculptural busts created from porcelain, lacquer, cloisonné and bronze.
Read more about Ah Xian on our blog | 'Ah Xian: Heavy Wounds'