Chinese and Australian artists in the changing times

Published 20 January 2014, 16:24 AEST

In recent years, the economic and trade relations between Australia and China have become closer, and the cultural ties between the two countries have also become closer. Stephen MINAS/Zhou Enrun, Policy Advisor for International Exchange, Trade and Multicultural Affairs in the Office of the Governor of Victoria, wrote an introduction.

Sino Australia Art exchange Chinese and Australian Artists in Changing Times (Credit: Audience Submitted)

China's rapid economic growth has ushered in a period of large-scale investment in contemporary art. The huge Beijing 798 Art District was established in 2001 in the old factory area of ​​the former North China Radio Equipment Co., Ltd. The art area has been expanding ever since. The Beijing government has announced that it will invest billions in its reconstruction.

In Shanghai, the 2010 World Expo left it with two new art museums. The striking National Pavilion of China reopened under the name of the National Art Museum of China. The City Future Pavilion of the World Expo, which straddles the Huangpu River, is now converted into the Shanghai Power Station Art Museum. It has already hosted the first Shanghai Biennale. Both museums opened last year.

Hong Kong is building a huge new art district, the West Kowloon Cultural District, which will include a XNUMX square meter museum (equivalent to the exhibition space of the Louvre). Australian art director Michael Lynch is responsible for overseeing the project.

From these perspectives, China's art world is more than just some new large-scale buildings and record-breaking auction sales. In addition to the booming market, China's visual arts and performing arts continue to develop new forms of expression and culture. For example, artists like Qiu Anxiong and Yang Yongliang have reinterpreted Chinese ink paintings that have a history of thousands of years in a new way. The first exhibition "ON/OFF" recently exhibited at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing showcases the diversity of young Chinese artists.

In short, the early part of this century is a period of major changes in the Chinese art community. This change has also brought opportunities for more and more Australian artists and cultural institutions to work with their Chinese counterparts.


The art exchange between Australia and China is two-way. The National Gallery of China exhibited an exhibition of Australian aboriginal art. According to a recent agreement reached between the National Gallery of Victoria and the Palace Museum of China, a large Chinese exhibition will come to Melbourne. What is interesting is that the theme of this exhibition will be the Emperor Qianlong who refused to open trade to Britain.

This Victorian-Asian cultural exchange report also looks forward to the future. All interviewees were asked to recommend ways to strengthen cultural exchanges between the two parties. The report quoted the suggestion of one of the interviewees as saying, “There should be more cultural exchanges and cooperation between Asian and Australian artists.

To some extent, this kind of exchange and cooperation has already existed. An example of this is "Nusurjak", a dance performance centered on the earthquake in Sichuan Province, China and the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. The dance was performed at the Melbourne Arts Festival in 2012. Prior to this, the artistic director of the festival Brett Shee saw a short version of the dance about the Sichuan earthquake performed by the Leshan City Song and Dance Troupe of China. "Nusujak" made Leshan Song and Dance Ensemble members perform on the same stage with actors from Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.

One of the challenges facing Australian art groups is to find a new platform for collaboration with artists from China and other countries in the world. Melbourne's White Night Art Festival may be one of these platforms. This evening art festival attracted more than 30 people in its first year. In 2014, it will once again be an opportunity for visual and performance artists to show themselves on a huge canvas.

(Author: Stephen MINAS / Zhouen Run is a policy adviser international exchanges, trade and Multicultural Affairs of Victoria, Australia governor's office.)