We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting

Dapeng Liu John and the light of ultramarine

oil on linen

150.2 x 150.2 cm

John Yu arrived in Australia from China when he was three. A renowned pediatrician, he was CEO of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead from 1979 to 1997. In 1996, he was named Australian of the Year and in 2001 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia. He loves art and, with his late partner George Souter, built a significant private collection of Southeast Asian art.

‘When I visited John, I was delighted to be shown part of his vast art collection,’ says three-time Archibald finalist Dapeng Liu.

‘During our sitting, he recounted stories of his many journeys collecting art. Most touching for me was when John explained how humanity can be felt through the ancient artefacts that were once used in people’s daily lives. Inspired, I tried capturing his likeness, reflecting his art-collecting adventures in a deep ultramarine silhouette in which I created islands and fishing villages at nightfall. In this vision, I imagine John in an idyllic village, chatting to the locals about legends from the past.’

Listen to label text

Watch Auslan video