|Jia Wei Shen was born in 1948 in Shanghai, China. Art Schools were closed during the period of the Cultural Revolution, so Shen was largely self-taught and by the mid 70’s his artistic ability was recognised. One of his works from this era, ‘Standing Guard for Our Great Motherland’ (1974) appeared in the China: 5000 Years exhibition in 1998 at the Guggenheim Museum in both New York and Bilbao.
Jia Wei studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing from 1982 to 1984 and became acclaimed as a history painter. His works are represented in the top public collections including the National Art Gallery of China and the Museum of the Chines e Revolution, both in Beijing. He has won five prizes in the National Art Exhibitions including first prize.
Jia Wei moved to Australia in 1989 and for the first two years had to support himself financially by drawing portrait sketches for tourists at Darling Harbour. He looked on this experience as an opportunity to research portraiture and since then he has completed many accomplished portrait commissions in Australia and overseas.
1992 first saw him submit work for the Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and since 1993 Jai Wei’s paintings have been selected for the exhibition nine times (including 2004) and in 1997 he was runner-up for the first prize. He has been a finalist in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize (1994, 1996) and has twice won third prize in the Sydney Royal Art Show (1993, 1994). In 1995 Jai Wei won the Mary McKillop Art Award and received a medal from Pope John Paul II. “Shen is a whole-hearted painter who has come through a tough artistic training in China. He has all the technical ability, the courage to take on ambitious compositions, and a hint of self-depreciating wit” (John McDonald, SMH, 29/03/97).
Jia Wei works and lives in Bundeena with his artist wife, Lan and young daughter.