The Geoff Raby Collection of Contemporary Chinese Art surveys the art collection amassed by Dr Geoff Raby AO, Australia's Ambassador to China between 2007 and 2011. Raby arrived in Beijing in the 1980s where he first encountered the emerging contemporary art scene. Recognising that China's new vanguard of artists were uniquely placed to reflect the unprecedented transformation of China following the Reform and Opening Up period, Raby became a collector, advocate and friend to artists who would go on to attain international recognition.
The collection charts a fascinating journey through the contemporary art of China – from a single early work made in Hotan in the far west of China and dated to 1942, through the early 1980s to the post-1989 period of the Tiananmen uprising and the arrival of the Cynical Realism and Political Pop art movements, and on to the exuberant years surrounding the Beijing Olympics of 2008.
This book is highly illustrated with works from the collection by avant garde artists such as Xiao Lu, Guan Wei, Ah Xian, Chen Wenling and Li Jin. Also featured are artists hailing from distant locations in Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and the southwestern province of Guizhou.
Thematically, the collection embraces such themes as sex, power and politics. Surprisingly, in a country where subjects such as these are routinely sanctioned, it is truly fascinating to see just how frequently these topics appear in the products of both radical art practitioners and in state sanctioned propaganda.
With essays by Damian Smith, Geoff Raby, Nicholas Jose, John McDonald and others, The Geoff Raby Collection of Contemporary Chinese Art is an indispensable reference guide for anyone seeking cultural insight into China in the 21st century. The text is bi-lingual, in English and Chinese.
The Geoff Raby Collection of Chinese Art, featuring 174 items, has now been donated to La Trobe University.