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Wan Lan, Xini, Shen Jiawei and Billy
, 2010

by Greg Weight

inkjet print (frame: 80.0 x 88.0 cm)

Shen Jiawei (b. 1948), painter, was born in China, where he grew up during the Cultural Revolution and began to gain recognition as an artist in the mid-1970s. Largely self-taught at first, when he was able to undertake formal art training in Beijing he was significantly influenced by his teacher Shangyi, China’s most famous portraitist. He came to specialise in history paintings, and saw his works hung in top public collections in Beijing before moving to Australia in 1989. Beginning again as a pavement portraitist at Darling Harbour, he built a full-time painting practice. Shen’s painting of Tom Hughes was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 2005 and he was commissioned to paint Crown Princess Mary of Denmark for the Gallery the same year. His commissioned portrait of the Gallery’s Founding Patron, L Gordon Darling AC CMG, hangs in the Gordon Darling Hall.

Greg Weight’s photograph of Shen with his wife Lan, daughter Xini and dog Billy was taken in the artist’s studio in Bundeena, New South Wales. Behind Shen is a typically playful self-portrait, in which he appears as an Imperial court painter of yesteryear.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2012
Accession number: 2012.111