The Tao: Conversations on Chinese Art in Australia
The Tao: Conversations on Chinese Art in Australia consists of a series of dialogues with important figures who have contributed to cross-border artistic encounters between China and Australia since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972. It is a novel exploration of Chinese art in Australia told through the stories of real people.
The Tao includes interviews with: Ah Xian, Edmund Capon, Jocelyn Chey, Guan Wei, Nicholas Jose, Lin Chunyan, Liu Xiaoxian, Mae Anna Pang, Geoff Raby, Claire Roberts, Aaron Seeto, Shen Shaomin, Gene Sherman, Brian Wallace, Wang Zhiyuan, Xiao Lu and John Yu.
Chapter I: Innocence
Building people-to-people relationships
Conversation with Jocelyn Chey
Resonating with traditional Chinese attitudes
Conversation with Mae Anna Pang
‘There is something going on over there …’
‘Let’s do it again!’
Conversation with Edmund Capon
Chapter II: Hold on to the Centre
‘I was really lucky in Australia’
Conversation with Guan Wei
‘The interesting part wasn’t simply relating to art, it was relating to China itself’
Conversation with Gene Sherman
A creative period that produced great artists
Conversation with Nicholas Jose
Is it possible to play?
Conversation with Liu Xiaoxian
‘I choose to drift’
Conversation with Ah Xian
Chapter III: The Value of Adversity
‘I came back!’
Conversation with Xiao Lu
‘Our art is our world and our world is our experience’
Conversation with Wang Zhiyuan
‘I ran away from Australia … to make art’
Conversation with Lin Chunyan
‘Definitely contemporary Chinese art’
Conversation with Shen Shaomin
Chapter IV: Continuity
A very hands-on Chinese art curator
Conversation with Claire Roberts
‘I am here all the time, observing it, taking it in and being part of it’
Conversation with Brian Wallace
Art broadens the relationship
Conversation with Geoff Raby
The roles that 4A played
Conversation with Aaron Seeto
‘Suddenly difference becomes interesting, and difference become attractive’
Conversation with John Yu
Book Review by Dr Stephen FitzGerald AO
This is an inspired idea, brilliantly realised. It is like visiting a salon, in which people connected by one thread, art, in the large fabric of the modern Australia-China story take turns telling their personal stories. They talk of creating and curating and facilitating art, of moving between the two countries for art, of alighting, moving on, returning. It’s like oral history, or seventeen small-scale oral histories spoken by large-scale individuals. And they all know each other, or have met, and often refer to each other in their stories, and that gives it this sense of a salon conversation.
Creator, moderator and editor Tianli Zu is herself a part of this world. A gifted contemporary artist and conversant in both Australian and Chinese cultures, she connects and directs the conversations as a historian, cajoling and coaxing her subjects into candidness, surfacing mood and aspiration and consummation, encouraging their humour.
Anchored in the subject of art, this is not an ‘art book’. It’s a book for the reader who finds interest and satisfaction in a good story, in this case a story of personal movement and colour and striving and friendship that has gone on underneath the superstructures of Australia-China relations, and the essential joy of an engaged life.
The Tao: Conversations on Chinese Art in Australia is unique in the literature of Australia and China. It is intellectually serious, but also playful; it is enquiring and informative, but also entertaining; and it is such fun to read.