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Exhibition Openings: Guan Wei, Lisa Wolfgramm, Doreen Chapman

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Please join us to celebrate the opening of three new exhibitions at Turner Galleries at 6pm Friday 3 May.

In our main gallery space we present an exhibition of recent paintings by celebrated Chinese / Australian artist Guan Wei. Lisa Wolfgramm returns to Perth to present an exhibition of new work in Engine Room 1, and in Engine Room 2 we are very pleased to host the second solo exhibition by Martu artist Doreen Chapman, presented by FORM and Spinifex Hill Studios.


Guan Wei was born in 1957, in Beijing, a descendant of Manchu nobility under the Qing Dynasty. He graduated in 1986 from the Department of Fine Arts at Beijing’s Capital University. He first visited Australia in early 1989 to undertake a two-month residency at the Tasmanian School of Art. He returned home to witness the atrocities of Tiananmen Square.

The Tasmanian School of Art invited Guan Wei back to Australia in 1990 and he applied for permanent residence under the Distinguished Talent Scheme. In 1993 he was granted Australian residency. During these early years in Australia his paintings underwent obvious stylistic changes. His colour palette began to reflect the strong colours of Australia, his forms became increasingly graphic and simplified. Australian animals and western icons were incorporated into his search for a unique visual language that would combine his Chinese cultural background with his new home.

His themes evolved to include colonisation, migration and the plight of refugees. He stated in 2005 “The longer I live in Australia the more involved I become. I sometimes think what if I had gone to Europe or to America instead? I can’t imagine what my work would be like because my work is really about what is happening here... For some artists they would be doing the same things but I am very sensitive to the culture and the responsibilities to this land and these people."*

Since 2008 Guan Wei spends his time between Beijing and Sydney, living and working in both cities, and his artworks continue to address what are now seen as international themes: migration, refugee plight, identity, environmental and social issues, politics and rapidly changing global economies. His artworks are laced with wisdom, humour and beauty. They draw upon what can now be seen as his ‘trademark’ set of symbolic forms: plump pale figures, floating clouds, oceans, Chinese landscape painting motifs, maps, isobar patterns and sea serpents; that are then interlaced with his current themes.

In this exhibition he is showing three bodies of work from 2013 to 2016: Reflection, Beyond the Horizon, and Untitled. The paintings in Reflection “superimpose, reflect and mix the history and reality, culture and society of the country in which I found myself, together with my personal imagination and my home country’s history, travelling through time.” (Artist statement 2019)

Guan Wei has won many awards and commissions, including the 2015 Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize and the 2013 entrance mural at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. He has held numerous solo exhibitions (this is his 67th) and has been included in many more group exhibitions. His artworks, including paintings, sculptures and installations, are held in multiple public, corporate and private collections in Australia and overseas.

*Quote from “Guan Wei: Cultural navigator” essay by Dinah Dysart, Guan Wei, Craftsman House, 2006, p.13.


Lisa Wolfgramm continues to push her experiments with abstraction in this exhibition of new paintings. She works with a notched squeegee, pulling it through wet paint to create extraordinary optical illusions. Her colour palette has expanded from the last exhibition, which was composed primarily of neutral, black and white fields with a simple form pulled through the paint to expose the colour, or aluminium base, below. The works in this new exhibition are comprised of fields of patterning that seem to move beyond the boundaries of the picture plane.

Wolfgramm noted in her artist statement that “I have endeavoured to achieve three additional objectives; to increase the scale of the individual marks made by the squeegee, to reintroduce distinct and separate layers, and to reintroduce colour. The sense of depth and movement in the newer work is altered by these additional objectives.”

Texture also plays a new role in these works, with several layers being applied with a roller, producing a flock-like appearance, in contrast to the reflective aluminium ground, and the lightly textured wood grain surface of the laminated panels.

Control, as usual, is paramount in Wolfgramm’s art practice. She stated, “Although I strive for control, the results produced by the gestural movements are not entirely predictable and when layered this effect is multiplied. While the approach is systematic and deliberate it is these built-in uncertainties that continue to stimulate my interest in this method of working.”

Lisa Wolfgramm was born in Victoria, but lived and worked in Perth for many years before relocating to Darwin in 2007. She studied at Curtin University in Perth and completed her Masters by Research in 2013 at Charles Darwin University. Her paintings can be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of WA, Artbank, Murdoch University, Curtin University, Bankwest, City of Perth, University of WA, Royal Perth Hospital, Cruther’s Collection of Womens' Art, Leeuwin Estate Art Series, Edith Cowan University, City of Fremantle, City of Joondalup and several others.


A new perspective is Doreen Chapman’s second solo exhibition, proudly presented by FORM and the Spinifex Hill Studios in Port Hedland. The exhibition showcases very recent works, mostly painted during a period of inspired output during early 2019. While containing many of Chapman’s trademarks, including her love of bright pastel colours, and her depictions of aeroplanes and bush turkeys, these works highlight a number of recent trends in Chapman’s practice. This includes a more minimal approach to composition, and references to Western art tradition, represented in this case by her interpretation of Van Gough’s iconic Sunflowers (1887-1888).

Compositionally, the works comprising A new perspective are sparser than much of the artist’s early output, containing wide fields of luminous colour, many of them poised between figurative and abstract art. Chapman’s works speak to the past and future; her figures could be interpreted as ancient spirit beings, contemporary characters, or futuristic visitors visitors – one work in this collection, Gollum, is a portrait of the Lord of the Rings character inspired by a miniature plastic figurine the artist viewed at her doctor’s office. Chapman’s trademark pastel palette, use of expressive, rapid brushwork, and playful approach to narrative here strike a unique balance between traditional and modern Aboriginal life.

Born in Jigalong in 1971, Martu artist Doreen Chapman has spent her life moving between the Western Desert communities of Western Australia’s vast Pilbara region. She has spent the majority of her adult life in Warralong community and now frequently visits Port Hedland to access services and see family. When in town she paints at Spinifex Hill Studios. As a deaf woman, painting is a crucial form of communication and storytelling for Chapman.*

*Doreen Chapman is a non-verbal artist. This statement has approval from her family.

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Friday, May 03 – Saturday, June 01


turner galleries
470 William Street
Northbridge, Western Australia


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