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Dapeng Liu A mind–body dualism portrait of Joanna Capon

oil on polyester

120 x 180 cm

A long-standing arts advocate, Joanna Capon OAM is on the board of directors of the Museum of Chinese in Australia and has previously served on the boards of the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network and the Australia–China Council. She is the widow of Edmund Capon, the former director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Liu became acquainted with Edmund in his later years and was intrigued by his and Joanna’s love of Chinese art and culture. He remembers seeing a vintage tin toy that Joanna bought in Beijing during the 1970s. Born in Beijing in 1982, Dapeng played with a similar toy as a child, and felt a kindred spirit with the Capons.

‘To create this portrait, I wanted to capture Joanna’s calm equanimity,’ says Liu. ‘Inspired by René Decartes’ thoughts on dualism – the relationship between the mind and physical body – I decided to paint a shadow matching Joanna’s physical likeness and fill it with a tranquil landscape.

‘Although the landscape is influenced by the traditional Chinese mountain-water painting style, shan shui, I have included coastlines and eucalyptus trees to represent Australia – both my and Joanna’s adopted country.’

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