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Self Portrait - Suddenly back to 1900 Theme: Encounters

Artist: Jaiwei SHEN

Title: Self Portrait - Suddenly back to 1900

Credit Line: Collection of the Artist

‘As the title suggests, this is a millennial joke: the Y2K bug has thrown me back to 1900, and I am fitted out in traditional Chinese dress In this painting, I pay tribute to Mr Mei Quong Tart. Behind my figure you can see the well-known Quong Tart’s Tea House in King Street Sydney Through the cockatoo, I show the harmony that exists between me as an immigrant living in Bundeena, and the local and indigenous Australians.’
Jaiwei Shen, 2000 The estate of Jules Francois Archibald established what has become the most prestigious annual portrait prize in Australia, the portrait prize in which Jaiwei Shen entered this work. Archibald was also the founding editor of the Bulletin magazine (now considered racist in its condemnation of the ‘yellow peril’).

Through the cockatoo resting calmly on his head, Jaiwei Shen conveys the idea that all nationalities now find acceptance in Australia, a far more tolerant place than either his own country of China or the previous times alluded to in the painting.

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