Chinese Australian artist Fan Dongwang's gum trees are ambiguous living things akin to human beings. Standing close to them in the twilight light and looking up, the artist sees their solemn tree trunks dance in the wind, their well caressed bodies transforming into awe inspiring human bodies. For Fan Dongwang gum trees are painterly subjects too, with the strokes breaking free with colours subtle yet vivid. The dazzling light portrays branches as narrow roads winding skyward, leading to a heavenly and spiritual perspective. I use unique Chinese relief carving techniques to depict the Australian gum tree, applying the paint brush as chisel to carve out its body shape and to create strong visual illusions. By composing three dimensional images within the narrow dimensions of the canvas surface, Fan Dongwang endeavours to achieve a special perspective and aesthetic. I try new ways of using old traditions to provide Australians with a different perspective of their trees and country. The great ‘Australian landscape’ tradition, being such a strong part of the European vision of Australia, has now embraced indigenous views of the landscape and will become even stronger when the Asian artistic perspective joins in. The Gum Tree tries to help Australians to understand the cultural differences and universal human experiences embodied within the representation of our environment, as well as establishing Fan Dongwang's ambivalent identity as a Chinese-Australian artist.
All paintings are acrylic on canvas.