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Ah Xian  

Claire Roberts

[Liu Jixian]

(b Beijing, May 7, 1960).

Chinese multimedia artist, active also in Australia. Ah Xian is a self-taught artist. He grew up during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and spent his early years in the relatively privileged environment of Beijing’s Science and Engineering University, where his parents worked. He trained as a mechanical fitter and worked in a factory, pursuing art on his own time. In the late 1970s he began to associate with avant-garde poets, writers and artists including members of The Stars, a non-official art group demanding freedom of artistic expression. Because his experimental works of art incorporating naked figures were considered at the time to be spiritually polluting, he was subject to routine surveillance by the Public Security Bureau.

Ah Xian first travelled to Australia in 1989 as a visiting artist at the Tasmanian School of Art. He returned the following year, after the Tiananmen massacre (4 June 1989), and in ...

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Terry Smith

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Luke Taylor

[ Yirrawala ; Yirwala ]

(b Liverpool River region, N. Territory, 1903; d April 17, 1976).

Australian Aboriginal painter . He was probably the best-known exponent of the style of bark painting associated with Western Arnhem Land. His language group was Kunwinjku, and he belonged to the clan Born. In his youth he moved to Croker Island. Here his works, along with those of such artists as Jimmy Midjawmidjaw, with whom he lived for a while, were collected by the French anthropologist Karel Kupka in 1963. Subsequently, Yirawala developed a strong friendship with the art dealer Sandra Holmes, who became his primary dealer for the rest of his career. Holmes was able to establish Yirawala’s reputation through a number of one-man exhibitions in Australian cities. These led to a number of art prizes, travel overseas and the award of an MBE in 1971. In the early 1970s Yirawala undertook to paint for Holmes an extensive collection of works relating to ceremonial themes. These consist of paintings of important creator figures, such as ...

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Howard Morphy

(b c. 1907; d Yirrkala, 1978).

Australian Aboriginal painter and sculptor . He was the leader of the Gumatj clan of north-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, during a critical period of the history of the Yolngu-speaking peoples, and one of the leaders of the Yolngu people in their fight for land rights when tenure of their land was threatened by mining interests in the 1960s and 1970s. Like Mawalan Marika, he was one of the first artists to produce bark paintings for sale to the missionary Wilbur Chaseling in 1935, and he later contributed to Stuart Scougall’s collection for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. With Marika and Narritjin Maymurru he helped to develop the episodic-narrative style of paintings characteristic of Yolngu art from the 1960s to the 1980s (e.g. Space Tracking Station, 1967; Adelaide, A. G. S. Australia). He was a prolific painter until the end of his life, and established a productive relationship with the Melbourne art dealer ...

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Blair French

(b Sydney, May 14, 1957).

Australian photographer. Zahalka was awarded an MFA in 1994 and was recipient of the 2005 Leopold Godowsky, Jr. Color Photography Award at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, MA. Since the 1980s her work has explored various forms of photographic portraiture, photomontage as well as manifesting a constant interest in the representation of place and its importance in the formation of individual and cultural identity. Zahalka has frequently referred to well-known historical photographs and representations in order to both draw on and question the cultural, gendered or institutional basis of their authority. Her work conveys an acute self-awareness of its own historical precedents. However it equally draws upon photography’s traditional association with visual veracity, exemplifying the complexity of photography as both aesthetic construction and medium of record.

The daughter of Czech and Austrian refugees, Zahalka’s early series, such as The Tourist as Theorist: (Theory Takes a Holiday) (1985), ...

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Geoffrey R. Edwards

(b Berlin, March 31, 1928).

Australian glass artist of German birth. He studied design at the Master School of Arts and Crafts in Berlin and, after emigrating to Australia in 1952, studied painting, printmaking and glass at the Melbourne Institute of Technology. In 1974 he pursued further study at stained-glass workshops in Cologne, Germany, and in 1975 he studied with Patrick Reyntiens and Ludwig Schaffrath in England. In 1979 Zimmer embarked upon another period of research at the Staatliche Glasfachschule, Hadamar, Germany. Zimmer became aware of the expressive potential of contemporary stained glass while studying with William Gleeson at the Melbourne Institute of Technology. He applied his graphic and design skills to the medium of glass with such commitment and imagination that his heavily textured, expressionist panels soon became one of the most enduring influences on Australian glass artists. Zimmer produced hemispherical ‘lens’ panels by fusing layers of irregular fragments of glass. He also framed broad, boldly painted segments of glass in richly embossed lead channels, and used metallic lustre and stain-painting to decorate glass. These methods contribute to an unmistakable quality of sombre chiaroscuro which often serves to underscore the strain of passionate, socio-political narrative evident in much of Zimmer’s work. After some years as senior lecturer in glass studies at the Chisholm Institute of Technology in Melbourne, in ...