Artist Profile

GUAN WEI

CHINESE-AUSTRALIAN ARTIST GUAN WEI STOOD deferentially in front of his self-portrait ‘Plastic Surgery’ (2015) at the launch in July of this year’s Archibald Portrait Prize at Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales. Descended from the Manchu nobility whose great-great-aunt gave birth to the Qing Dynasty’s last emperor, he cut an elegant and imposing figure.

At just over four metres wide ‘Plastic Surgery’ is a large, politically charged self-portrait where four disembodied heads of the artist chart a metaphorical transformation from an early portrait as a black-haired Chinese man, an image that would have been on the cover of his Chinese government personnel file – “The government keeps a file on everyone” he says – to one showing his face which has morphed into a blue-eyed, fair-skinned, blonde, fully assimilated Caucasian surrounded by

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