John Young: The Bridge and the Fruit Tree

Dates & times

Fri 15 February — Sun 24 March 2013

Image: John Young
S Painting
1992, oil on canvas, 274 x 183 cm. Collection of the artist.


Born in Hong Kong in 1956, John Young’s bi-cultural heritage has led him to investigate ambivalent and conflicting aspects of representation, meaning and authenticity in contemporary art. In recent years his interests have deepened and matured, with his curiosity and compassion leading him to universal themes – such as the nature of memory and the recording of history, the violent events of the past and the resilience of the human spirit in surviving the shocks of trauma, dispossession and exile.

This exhibition is made up of three bodies of work. The dramatic centre-piece is Safety Zone, a sixty part epic dealing with Nanjing at the time of the Japanese invasion in 1937. The heroic actions of missionaries and foreign business people in their attempts to provide a buffer between the conquering army and a terrorized population is relived via an extraordinary flux of words and images.

In Young’s Transcultural Humanitarian Projects (of which Safety Zone is a chapter) he has rethought the relevance of humanistic values and the need for ethics at a time when our technocratic and consumer culture has diminished their currency.

The Abstract Paintings series explores in a highly inventive way the impact of digital media in shaping visualisation, affect and collective recollection.  The third series, Cardinal Paintings, uses very disparate imagery and techniques as a form of contemporary allegory.

Young’s work has been widely exhibited in major exhibitions in Australia and abroad. He helped establish the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, an organisation for the promotion of Asian philanthropy and the nurturing of Asian-Australian artists and curators. He is greatly respected as an artist and writer.

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Updated:  20 March 2013/ Responsible Officer:  DHG Director/ Page Contact:  Drill Hall Gallery