4 March 2014

The Board of 4A today announces the appointment of Edmund Capon AM, OBE as the new Chair of the Board of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Capon is one of the most respected and recognised figures in the arts, and takes up the position just prior to the launch of 4A’s major 2014 solo exhibition of internationally acclaimed Thai artist, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, in Storytellers of the Town (opening 14 March).

4A Director Aaron Seeto said, “Edmund Capon’s appointment to the Board of 4A as its Chairman is a tremendous appointment and we warmly welcome him to the role. Following Edmund’s extensive career at the highest levels of the art sector, including leading the Art Gallery of NSW for 33 years, he brings enthusiasm and a great wealth of knowledge and expertise to the 4A organisation. Edmund also shares with 4A a strong passion for Asian art and cultural exchange. His appointment comes at a significant time for both 4A and the rapidly developing Australia-Asia cultural network which we operate within.”

 “The arts of Asia have always been an absolute passion of mine. 4A deals so much with contemporary life: it’s about bringing the art of Asia here now, so that we can get that rapport and communication with the creative spirits around us in the Asian region.”

“You cannot imagine anything more important and pertinent to a place like Sydney and Australia than to get involved with Asia culturally, socially and economically and to underwrite all that with a certain cultural sensitivity – that’s what the arts has the power to do.”

4A is a pioneering organisation and one of the first in Australia to dedicate its entire program and activities to the contemporary art of the Asia-Pacific region. Since its humble beginnings in 1996 in a small office space in Chinatown, 4A has undergone a number of significant transformations that reflect the growth of contemporary Asian art in Australia. 4A has grown into an important national site for contemporary artistic contemplation with an impressive network of artists, organisations and supporters throughout Australia and around the world.

Recent notable projects include the Sydney Pavilion at the Shanghai Biennale (2012); Song Dong Waste Not presented through a partnership with 4A and Carriageworks (2013) and Vertical Villages developed for the Jakarta Biennale (2013). 4A’s list of artistic collaborators spans China, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Japan, Cambodia, Korea, Taiwan, US, UK, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand as well as Australia.

Dr Melissa Chiu, Museum Director and Senior Vice President, Global Arts and Cultural Programs at the Asia Society in New York City, who is also 4A’s founding Director said, “4A has emerged as an important regional voice, not only creating opportunities for Asian artists in Australia, but also advocating for the contemporary art of the region. The appointment of Edmund Capon to the Board of 4A signals an exciting opportunity. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience which I imagine will raise the profile of 4A more broadly both in Australia and elsewhere.”

Lindy Lee, artist and former Chair of 4A states: “In its history, 4A has been at the forefront of the discussions of Australia’s cultural diversity ensuring that the voices of contemporary Asian-Australian artists are included within broader definitions of Australian culture. It’s work is of fundamental importance. Edmund Capon will bring a great exuberance to ensure the longevity of 4A.”

Caroline Choy, who held the position of Chair remains a member of the Board.

See the video announcement with Edmund Capon, Lindy Lee and Aaron Seeto talking about 4A here.


Mr Capon took up his appointment as Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in November 1978 following his arrival from London where, for the previous five years, he held the position of Assistant Keeper, Far Eastern Section, Victoria and Albert Museum.  He stepped down as director on 23 December 2011.

Mr Capon attained a Master of Philosophy Degree in Chinese Art and Archaeology (including language) from London University’s Department of Oriental and African Studies with his thesis entitled: The Inter-dependence of Chinese Buddhist Sculpture in Bronze and Stone from AD386 to 581, and is a recognised world expert in his particular field.

In October 2003 Mr Capon opened the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ newly rebuilt Asian galleries.  This major building project has created two levels of greatly enhanced and expanded exhibition space for the Gallery’s Asian collection, as well as space for touring exhibitions of Asian art.  In May 2011 Mr Capon opened 3,300 square metres of new and refurbished modern and contemporary galleries, which includes dedicated display space for the Kaldor Family Collection.

Mr Capon is a Visiting Professor in the School of Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, University of New South Wales; is on the Board of the St James Ethics Committee; has written extensively on the arts of China; written and presented a 3-part ABC TV-China Central Television co-produced documentary entitled Meishu: Travels in Chinese Art which has been distributed worldwide; developed the AGNSW as a centre for Asian art display and education; created the Gallery’s highly successful Foundation, a Capital fund, to acquire works for the Collection; has curated exhibitions encompassing Asian, European and Australian art; has written extensively on Chinese art & archaeology and on the work of artists such as Jeffrey Smart, Caravaggio and Giacometti.

Mr Capon’s most recent non-Gallery publication is a collection of essays entitled I Blame Duchamp: My Life’s Adventures in Art which was published in November 2009 by Penguin Australia.
He was awarded the Doctor of Letters honoris causa from the University of NSW in 2000 and from Macquarie University in 2010. He has been honoured by the governments of Britain, France, Italy and Australia for his contribution to art and culture.

Edmund Capon (Chair)
John Choi  (Vice President)
Adrian Williams (Treasurer)
Caroline Choy
Lisa Corsi
Sharon Chen
John Young
Hannah Skrzynski