This large 5-panel painting Shifting Perspectives and the Body (240 x 900 cm) forms the climax of Chinese Australian artist Fan Dongwang's work, by mixing all the different images from various visual sources using shifting perspectives. It is a replication of the bodies full of social and cultural inscriptions and ambivalence. Many aspects of his study are mixed up in this large painting including the classic Chinese painting Night Entertainment of Han Xizai, Botticelli's Madonna Enthroned with St Peter the Baptist and St John the Evangelist "Bardi Madonna", and Fan's own work Descendant and Human Conflicts. All of these ambiguous images have nevertheless achieved a visual solution: a synthesis of cultural differences created by a new system of shifting perspectives. The artist uses shifting perspectives as method (sculptural painting) to analyse different art styles while using shifting perspectives as metaphors to convey different cultural aspects. The environment (or the association of the forms) determines the concept of the object. The painting shows a series of mannerisms and conventions of shifting perspectives that serve in a way to impose a hidden order upon surface chaos to achieve a visual poetic.
All paintings are acrylic on canvas.
Shifting Perspective & Body #1-5
Fan Dongwang, 240 x 900 cm. This large 5-panel painting becomes the climax of my work that mixes all the different images from various visual sources by using shifting perspectives. It is a replication of the bodies full of social and cultural inscriptions and ambivalence.
#1 Double Screens 244 x 180 cm
Fan Dongwang. A traditional Chinese screen and a computer screen. These are effective visual devices to display images imported from other spaces, and to help viewers to shift their perspectives from place to place, reality to art, and to construct spaces accordingly. In front of the screens, St Peter the Baptist and a child dressed like St John the Evangelist are watching the Australia Rugby players fighting against Mao’s Red Guards, a seriousness versus absurdity.
#2 Badi Madonna 244 x 180 cm
Fan Dongwang. Botticelli’s figures St Peter, St John, Madonna and baby are missing, leaving three “windows” open to a scene of body struggle. Windows are thus metapictures that referred to itself: pictures that are used to show what a picture is. The image painted on the window screen always struggled to achieve its independence as an optical illusion; while a screen’s frame always destroyed such illusion. This visual ambiguity contributes to the ambivalence of the body identity.
#3 March 244 x 180 cm
Fan Dongwang. A giant machinery figure thrusts out of a Chinese wall painting of many ambiguous Long Marchesfrom Mao’s revolution to Deng’s capitalisation, from Anzac Parade to Mardi Gars. All under the banner of shifting perspectives.
#4 Performance 244 x 180 cm
Fan Dongwang. The anxious Chinese/Japanese tourists come to the Opera House in Sydney to observe an old-fashioned feminist woman's band celebrating the downturn of a religious figure who is holding a female baby in his arm in a Chinese interior. This is a performance of identity in an ambiguous space and time.
#5 Discourse 244 x 180 cm
Fan Dongwang. A soldier of People’s Army is talking to Madonna about dubious political and religious devotion, while others are watching a fierce wrestling between two bodies and their three heads overshadowed by a large Descendant.
After Botticelli #1, 184 x 174 cm
Fan Dongwang. The paintings address the issue of shifting gender perspective. Botticelli’s painting of Pallas and the Centaur shows a triumphant woman’s image capturing a male half animal, half human being. This connotation has been played out in this serial painting to explore the fluid gender specification of the body. The work indicates that today’s gender perspective is shifting: all gender differences are becoming mixed and need careful reconsideration and reconstruction.
After Botticelli #2, 184 x 174 cm
Fan Dongwang. This is represented in the painting by the displacement of the male and female head and body. Each work combines to represent heterosexuality, homosexuality, transexuality and the conflicts among them. Because of the problem of defining gender, some artist and theorists propose to shift the perspective away from the gender paradox.
“It means that our influences are mixed - people do not hail from one history, one culture or one background but from a melting pot of multiple cultures. There are starling differences in our thoughts and ways of doing things, but also more commonality than we think we have. The point of view I want to express is multiple, is shifting and jumping and changing from one view towards another, sometimes from several different points of view all at once. So it’s not just one way of doing things but multiple ways of doing things. With this understood, we can reduce confrontation and conflict.”