Fairweather and China

Claire Roberts

Fairweather and China
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Fairweather and China

Claire Roberts

An exquisitely illustrated appraisal of Australia’s ‘greatest artist’ that explores his fascination with China and its centrality to his body of work.

Ian Fairweather is one of the most significant twentieth-century artists to have worked in Australia. After a life of wandering, including time spent in China, Bali and the Philippines, Fairweather settled on Bribie Island, off the coast of Queensland, where he built his own house. In 1962 a leading art critic named him ‘our greatest painter’.

Fairweather is exceptional among modern artists for his experience of Chinese life and culture. He lived and worked in China for extended periods, learnt Chinese and published a book-length translation of the popular Chinese novel The Drunken Buddha (1965). From an early age Fairweather sought alternatives to art based on verisimilitude and single-point perspective. This led to a lifelong engagement with the principles of Chinese art and thought that profoundly shaped his own creative process.

Drawing on letters, interviews and other archival materials to shed new light on Fairweather’s artistic practice, Claire Roberts brings her own extensive knowledge of Chinese language and art to this absorbing re-examination of a revered artist. Fairweather and China shows how central the China experience is to his emergence as a key transcultural figure, connecting British, European, Chinese and Australian art histories in new and visionary ways.

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