Li Shan: Skin Secrets

11 February – 6 March 1999

Li Shan is one of China’s most exciting artists. His sensuous paintings explore male sexuality through metaphor. The massive paintings of the Rouge series, for instance, feature photo-realistic black and white images of male nudes sprouting magenta and white lotus flowers.

These powerful works comment on issues related to aesthetics within China. Flower painting is a well respected Chinese tradition but in La Shan’s paintings flowers come to represent vitality and sexuality.

Skin Secrets is a visual arts event for the 1999 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival.


5 – 15 May 1999

Curator: Melissa Chiu
Artists: Peter Atkins, Sylvia Chan, Collette Dinnigan, Dinosaur Designs, Natasha Ivachoff, Kewday Skateboards, Li Liang, Ron Muncaster, Pol Nettleton, Bronwyn Oliver, Scott Redford, Nike Savvas and Miles Whippy.

Art meets fashion in an exciting exhibition at Gallery 4A. Accessory is an exhibition exploring creative links between fashion and art through a series of collaborations with fashion designers and artists.

Each fashion designer has been matched up with a contemporary artist to create an artwork that reveals innovation within both disciplines. For example Collette Dinnigan’s lace creations are featured alongside 1994 Moet & Chandon Prize winner, Bronwyn Oliver’s delicate whimsical wire sculptures.

Another collaboration features objects by Dinosaur Designs and a painting by Peter Atkins (representative for Australia in the Indian Triennale in 1994), both inspired a swatch of bold, geometric Marimekko fabric from the ’60’s. Natasha Ivachoff of PIGSINSPACE is working with funky young artist, Miles Whippy to create a fashion narrative in photographs.

Accessory continues Gallery 4A’s commitment to fashion and art. Gallery 4A recently held a banquet and fashion parade featuring designs by Akira, Nelson Leong, ninetysix, Sylvia Chan and Wayne Cooper. Exhibitions at Gallery 4A have been featured in Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Business Review Weekly and regularly in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Accessory is an event of the Mercedes Australian Fashion Week festival.

Header image: Dinosaur Designs and Peter Atkins, Melooni and Maija Isola’s “Melooni” Form c.1963, 1999, 8 oval side plates, 2 large oval platters, 3 organic oval dishes, 1 large organic oval offering dish, 1 Melooni mobile, enamel and oil on canvas.

4A Members’ Exhibition 1999

5 – 18 December 1999

Gallery 4A [4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art] is pleased to announce our Members Annual Open Exhibition, the final exhibition of the year.

Over seventy members and friends of the Asian Australian Artists Association inc. have contributed work to the show at Gallery 4A [4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art], to celebrate a successful 1999. The exhibition will be opened on Saturday 5 December at 6pm by Chinese Community leader King Fong.

Different Worlds

15 September – 9 October 1999

Artists: My Le Thi and Ruth Watson

Gallery 4A [4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art] is pleased to present two artists whose work addresses a sense of place – a sense of where we are in the world, as part of Australian Perspecta 1999.

Ruth Watson’s work attempt to re-position Australia and New Zealand, where she was born, from their marginal place within the discourse of cartography. Featured in the exhibition, Interrupting the World (1999), for instance, is a light-coloured carpet stained with red wine, resembling the aftermath of a party. Although the spontaneity of the spills resemble the ambiguous blobs of a Rorschach image, they also represent a view of the globe.

My Le Thi’s work focuses on an exploration of racial politics through physical signifiers such as hair, eye and skin colour. Her controversial work from 1997 consisted of a series of small heads cast in the likeness of Pauline Hanson, each painted a different colour in red, black, yellow and white, representing different racial groups. This work was a critique of racial stereotypes embodied in the political agenda of the One Nation party.

Thi’s installation for this exhibition is titled Transformation (1999), and involves members from the Sydney Vietnamese community, whose shoes or casts of their own feet are featured alongside Thi’s in the show. Thi considers shoes to be an idiosyncratic symbol of journey and life experience and, by including shoes made by others, aims to present a cacophony of different stories of migration from Vietnam to Australia.


Ruth Watson, D.I.Y. World #1, 1999, mixed media on linen, pins, 240 x 240 cm. Installation View, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Image Courtesy the artist.
Ruth Watson, Experimental Contact, 1999, wallpaper, contact, map pins, dimensions variable. Installation View, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Image Courtesy the artist.
Header Image: Ruth Watson, Exhibition ‘Different Worlds’ 1999, Installation View, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Image Courtesy the artist.

Poonkhin Khut: Pillow Songs and Di Wu: The Door of Silence

10 November – 4 December 1999

Pillow Songs is a powerful digital sound installation that plays with the tensions between sound and silence, tactility and memory, intimate domestic rituals and public space. Inspired by the suggestive stains left on old pillow casings, Poonkhin Khut transforms the gallery space into a shadowy underworld of atmospheres and aural fragments. Speakers buried inside pillows on three beds combine sounds and textures from a bank of CD players.

Di Wu’s paintings and drawings are a fusion of Tibetan Buddhist concerns and contemporary Western sensibility. His small-scale, meditative works incorporate images of mandalas and windows or doorways. They evoke rites of passage and allude to states of consciousness between life and death, or one world and the next.

Biomorphs and Katherine Huang: News From Island

13 October – 6 November 1999

Curator: Melissa Chiu
Assistant Curator/Curator, Biomorphs: Tiffany Lee-Shoy
Artists, Biomorphs: Dong Wang Fan, Leonie Watson, Manuel Sharrad and Tammy Wong

Biomorphs is an exhibition which explored the interfaced between the ‘natural’ human body and machines and technology.

Katherine Huang uses everyday materials but instead of leaving these as blank issues of daily detritus, she imbues the mystery of alchemy into each installation. In her exhibition News From Island, ordinary objects take on the poetry of the middle ages; each piece an important part of a bigger and more complicated equation. Using drawings, appropriated stationery and other found objects, Huang’s work weaves a narrative from which many stories can be drawn out and pursued within the installation’s own logic.

Paul Bai: New Chinese Paintings and Moko Halford: Packaged Memories

18 August – 11 September 1999

Paul Bai’s exhibition New Chinese Paintings is a continuation of his research into the way Chinese culture is often presented in Australia – as exotic and mysterious. Stereotypes Chinese icons and cultural cliches appear in Bai’s works. He employs social realist and satirical strategies to produce a parody of a cultural parody, such as in the work I Like Your Country Too. By confronting the colonial cultural perspective, Bai reveals the often superficial nature of cultural interpretation, and the limitations of current understandings of Chinese culture in Australian society.

Moko Halford’s installation is both and exploration into her own hybrid identity and a personal tribute to her late father. Halford has created images of her family by injecting agar-agar jelly into sheets of bubble-wrapped packaging. This method creates the effect of pixillated drawing. Halford’s use of agar-agar suggests the transition from one cultural environment (Japan) to another (Australia). Her use of packaging materials also alludes to the way in which she keeps in contact with her family – by sending packages through the post.

Bilingual: Six Translations

14 July – 14 August 1999

Curator: Melissa Chiu
Assistant Curator: Tiffany Lee-Shoy
Artists: Ah Xian, Maria Cruz, Laurens Tan, Hanh Ngo, Juliana Wong and Hyun-Ju Lee
Bilingual: Six Translations catalogue is available in the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art library.

Gallery 4A [4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art] is pleased to announce Bilingual, an exhibition that brings together six Asian Australian artists whose work focuses on different themes of translation. This exhibition features work by Maria Cruz, Laurens Tan, Hyun-Ju Lee, Juliana Wong, Hanh Ngo and Ah Xian.

The idea of translation manifests itself in the work of these artists in a number of different ways, either through the translation between different cultures or translation between otherwise fixed mediums or technology.

Bilingual shows a diversity of practices by different generations of artists and work from a range of disciplines such as painting (Maria Cruz and Hyun-Ju Lee), craft-based practices (Ah Xian and Hanh Ngo) as well as computer imaging or new technology (Laurens Tan and Juliana Wong).

Neha Choksi and Nell: Nell Nation/Party Streamers and Stephen Birch: Civic Minded

16 June – 10 July 1999

Prompted by the rise of the One Nation Party, Neha Choksi and Nell are collaborating on an installation that transforms the gallery space into their own Nation. The exhibition, Nell Nation/Party Streamers, explodes the propaganda symbols of a patriotic-society-gone-mad, whilst meditating on the personal victories of organised self-reliance. The artists describe their Nation as an ‘optimistic hand-made ploy for Utopia,’ with colourful flags proclaiming ownership of the Self, and party streamers celebrating a global consciousness.

Stephen Birch’s exhibition Civic Minded continues his witty and compelling explorations into the status of the human body in social and psychological space. Birch’s installation features a pair of floor-to-ceiling fibreglass sculpted trees. The tree forms are comfortable and familiar, and yet simultaneously bizarre for they are each equipped with a pair of human feet. As they face each other in deep conversation, their strange bodily rigidness and the promise of mobility collide.

Debra Porch and Harriet Parsons: Stitching in Time and Victoria Lobregat: A Positive Era of Change

19 May – 12 June 1999

Debra Porch and Harriet Parsons investigate aspects of mortality, using strands of hair to represent traces of their own existence. Parsons’  exquisite insect embroideries are created with her own hair, stitched painstakingly into satin squares, and stretched onto embroidery hoops. Resembling scientific specimens, the works are infused with the investment of time – time taken for her to stitch, to analyse and to investigate the insect captured and frozen in time.

Victoria Lobregat is commenting on our age of change. Continuing her investigation into the power of the symbol, Lobregat juxtaposes images of sacred symbols and the everyday motifs. The multiple signs and symbols of consumer desire, culture and spirituality represent a world of possibilities for co-existence-in-chaos, informed by Lobregat’s own bi-cultural experience (Filipino-Australian). Together, the symbols suggest the inherent presence of the spiritual in the everyday and become the focus of a contemplative memory. The symbols are reinvested with new meaning and hope to become positive indicators of change for the new millennium.

Jane Polkinghorne and Helen Hyatt-Johnston: Twilight Girls Go East!!! and Min Woo Bang: Sombre Reflections on Masters

7 April – 1 May 1999

The Twilight Girls Go East!!! is the latest collaborative project by artists Jane Polkinghorne and Helen Hyatt-Johnston. Both artists are featured in a series of photographs taking as their inspiration characters such as Bette Davis as Madame Sin and Shirley Maclaine as a geisha girl. By recreating images of Westerners dressing up as Asians, the Twilight Girls humourously and at times shockingly explore Western representations of the East in film.

Min Woo Bang, a South Korean born Sydney-based artist, presents a series of paintings based upon Western masterpieces by Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Instead of directly copying these images he paints himself into them as the main figure. This has the effect of undermining our assumptions that master paintings are Western.

Mark Hislop: Prescribe and Tan Yi Feng: In and Out

10 March – 3 April 1999

Gallery 4A [4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art] presented two exhibitions by emerging Australian artists.

Mark Hislop’s work conceptually starts with the word ‘prescribe.’ It examines the relationships of medical, scientific and modernist paradigms. The word ‘prescribe’ deploys a purposeful authority, a procedural act, presupposing an intent of future action in addition to reliance on previous histories of proven effect.

Tan Yi Feng’s paintings explore themes of migration based upon his journey from China to Australia. His quirky and at times surreal paintings evoke ideas of cultural difference.


Tan Yi Feng, In and Out no.1-13 (detail) , 1999, acrylic on canvas, 83 x 91cm each. Installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy the artist.


Tan Yi Feng, In and Out no. 1-13 (detail), 1999, acrylic on canvas, 83 x 91cm each. Installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy the artist.


Tan Yi Feng, In and Out no. 1-13 (detail), 1999, acrylic on canvas, 83 x 91cm each. Installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy the artist.

Bright and Shining

Sydney, 24 February – 6 March 1999.

Australian Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, 10 December 1999 – 27 January 2000.

Curator: Melissa Chiu
Artists: Lindy Lee, Tim Johnson, Victoria Lobregat and Natsuho Takita

The title of this exhibition evokes ideas of clarity and luminosity, but also refers to the way that each of the artists work with light. This idea is further extended by the use of light to represent a spiritual realm beyond the everyday. Victoria Lobregat’s paintings, for instance, feature Buddhist phrases painted on highly reflective, glittering surfaces; while Lindy lee’s random black brushwork over brightly coloured panels is informed by principles of Zen. Tim Johnson’s works also incorporate symbols and icons from a variety of religious and indigenous stories, floating like ethereal visions; while Natsuo Takita’s blurred and distorted images of photographs are contemplative visions of light. It is the constant oscillation and resonance of these concerns between each of the works that structures this exhibition.