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

Jason Phu cameras are the best, cameras are the worst

acrylic on canvas

153 x 137 cm

Artist William Yang – the subject of Jason Phu’s portrait – began his career in the 1970s, documenting the Sydney gay party scene and the evolution of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras through photographs. He then expanded his practice to explore his Chinese heritage and identity through monologues with slide projections, which he presented in theatres.

‘I’ve seen his slide shows and he is an amazing storyteller,’ says Phu. ‘We’ve met a few times at openings, and he has photographed me and my friends. So, it was great to sit down with him at his house (where he cooked me dumplings) and have a yarn about his career and life in general.

‘I noticed that he had a fairly large old-school shrine in his house with different deities. I have quite a few of these shrines and position them in places where I stay and work; they’re common in Chinese and Asian shops and restaurants. There were some fake lotuses in the shrine that caught my eye, and I’ve included them in the background.’

A three-time Archibald finalist who won the Sulman Prize in 2015, Phu is also a finalist in this year’s Wynne and Sulman Prizes.

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