The cover of the book 'Fairweather and China'

New from Melbourne University Press: Fairweather and China by Claire Roberts, Associate Professor of Art History and Curatorship in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne.

Ian Fairweather (1891-1974) is one of the most significant twentieth-century artists to have worked in Australia. Born in Scotland, Fairweather settled on Bribie Island, off the coast of Queensland, after a life of wandering, including time spent in China, Bali and the Philippines. 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.

Fairweather and China is available from Melbourne University Press: It follows on from Ian Fairweather: A Life in Letters by Claire Robertson and John Thompson, published by Text Publishing in 2019.

Claire Roberts is an ARC Future Fellow, art historian and curator specialising in modern and contemporary Chinese art, and the cultural flows between Australia and Asia. She is Associate Professor of Art History and Curatorship in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Roberts’ curated exhibitions include ‘Xiao Lu: Impossible Dialogue’ at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney, ‘Go Figure: Contemporary Chinese Portraiture’ at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, and ‘Other Histories: Guan Wei’s Fable for a Contemporary World’ at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Her books include Friendship in Art: Fou Lei and Huang Binhong (Hong Kong University Press, 2010), Photography and China (Reaktion Books, 2013) and Ian Fairweather: A Life in Letters, edited with John Thompson (Text Publishing, 2019).