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  • Ray Monde

And then I met Fang Lijun at the National Portrait Gallery

A sudden icy downpour made me seek refuge in the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. It was serendipitous as there was an amazing talk by artist Fang Lijun, the collector Uli Sigg and the curator Claire Roberts of the Go Figure Contemporary Chinese Portraiture exhibition.

The exhibition is really compelling with such vibrant colours and racy content being birthed from suppression. Fang Lijun said that after the massacre in Tiananmen Square which he witnessed he forced himself to use bright bold colours to overcome the darkness. He used the colour in his art as as source of healing.

He also said that a purchase of his work by Claire, let him buy a studio outside Beijing in 1992 which has spawned an entire suburb of some 5000 contemporary Chinese artists.

What I loved about Uli from a collector’s point-of-view was that by buying work from emerging artists, sometimes they don’t pursue the life of an artist so you end up with dead-end works in your collection but that’s the joy and risks of collecting. He’s amazing, collecting something like over 300 Chinese artists works.

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