Jiawei Shen was born in Shanghai in 1948. Largely self-taught, he became a well-known artist in China in the mid-1970s during the Cultural Revolution. His oil painting Standing Guard for Our Great Motherland (1974) became an icon in those years and later shown in New York twice at Guggenheim Museum in 1998, and Asia Society Museum in 2008. In 2009 it was auctioned away in Beijing Guardian for the price of about one million US dollars. Now it is in the collection of the Long Museum in Shanghai.
From 1982 to 1984, he studied in the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and later became a professional artist in Shenyang. He won the National Art Exhibition Prize in China five times.
Jiawei Shen moved to Australia in 1989 and for the first three years had to support himself financially by drawing portrait sketches for tourists at Darling Harbour. He looked on this experience as an opportunity to research portraiture and since then he has completed many accomplished portrait commissions in Australia and overseas. As a leading portraitist he was commissioned by the Australian government to paint official portraits for Pope Frances (2013), Princess Mary of Denmark (2005), Prime Minister John Howard (2009) and Australian Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove (2018).
Since 1993, Jiawei Shen’s portrait paintings have been finalist for the Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery NSW fourteen times and in 1997 he was runner-up for this prize. He has also been a finalist in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize (1994, 1996, 2006, 2007 and 2017) and has twice won third prize in the Sydney Royal Art Show (1993 and 1994). In 1995, he won the Mary McKillop Art Award and received a medal from Pope John Paul II. He also won the Sir John Sulman Prize in 2006, and the Gallipoli Art Prize in 2016.
Jiawei Shen has made a reputation for his large history paintings. In his Australian epic, At the Turn of Century (1998), there were more than 100 historical figures; in his Malaysian epic Merdeka (2008), 260; and in his Chinese epic Brothers and Sisters (2010-2017), more than 450.
Jiawei Shen has six works in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Parliament House in Canberra. In China, he has seventeen works in the collections of the National Museum, the National Art Museum, and the National Military Museum in Beijing. His portrait of Pope Frances is in the Vatican Art Collection.
“Shen is a whole-hearted painter who has come through a tough artistic training in China. He has all the technical ability, the courage to take on ambitious compositions, and a hint of self-depreciating wit.” (John McDonald, SMH, 29/03/97).
Jiawei Shen's Archibald Paintings Exhibition will run from 23 June – 10 August 2018.
Exhibition opening event will be held on Saturday, 23 June 2018 at 4:00pm. Limited seats. RSVP essential. RSVP on Eventbrite.