Carter, Anne and Osmond, Gillian ‘The process of painting: Chinese painting materials in the 1980’s’ in The China Project, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane 2009, pp 64-71.
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The materiality of a painting provides unique information that enriches our knowledge of an artist’s practice. The physical form also gives insight into the culture and circumstances in which an art work is created, and reflects the choices available to the artist. The appearance of paintings can change over time, and an informed knowledge of materials and techniques can aid conservation and restoration treatments, as well as assist in the interpretation of an artist’s intent and determine a work’s authenticity.
Through four very different works in the collection of the Queensland Art Gallery — Ah Xian’s Heavy wounds series no.10 1991, Guan Wei’s Wo yu (Kneeling fish) 1986, Gu Wenda’s Lay down your arms (Jiao qiang bu sha) 1985 and Night ambush c.1985 (with collaborating artist Guo Zhonglian) — we are able to document an era of immense change in these artists’ lives, and in the rapidly modernising China of the 1980s and early 1990s. During our research and conservation treatment of these paintings, it became apparent that these artists were strongly influenced by Western oil painting and drawing techniques, and that they each shared a healthy respect for quality
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