In 2018 four speakers are invited to Sydney to address the annual theme, Uncertain Objects: Trajectories of Asian Art. We often think of artists and artworks as having stable identities: produced by a named artist, in a particular place, for a particular patron or market. These beliefs then shape what we think we know, or could know, about objects, their subjects and creators. Yet the historical reality of art is far messier, and far more exciting; objects, artists, and ideas moved across national and cultural boundaries, created between and from multiple cultures. This year’s Sydney Asian Art Series explores examples of such movement and multiplicity from across Asia and the world.


In semester one Professor Winnie Wong questions the legacy of “Lam Qua,” one of the most well-documented artisans working in the port of Guangzhou in the early 19th century. Was he an early exemplar of modern art in China, or a mere copyist of European pictures? In her lecture Until You See the Original Again: Lam Qua, Chinese Export Artist, professor Wong explores the fascinating corpus of paintings—including both originals and copies- left by the Lam Qua.


Professor Ajay Sinha will address the 2018 theme Uncertain Objects: Trajectories of Asian Art with his lecture Transcultural Attractions: Photographs of an Indian Dancer.  In the Spring of 1938, an Indian dancer, Ram Gopal, posed in a variety of fantastical costumes for the American photographer, Carl Van Vechten, in New York City. Sinha’s lecture will discuss the resulting series of 100 remarkable, large-size photographs, to build an illustrated story of mutual fascination and transcultural exchanges triggered by the camera placed between the dancer and the photographer during the photoshoot.


Presented by

The Sydney Asian Art Series is presented by the University of Sydney’s China Studies Centre, The Power Institute, and VisAsia, with support from the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Sydney Ideas.

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2018 Program: ‘Uncertain Objects: Trajectories of Asian Art’





Lecture: Until You See the Original Again: Lam Qua, Chinese Export Artist

Winnie Wong | Professor of Rhetoric and History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley.

When | Saturday 28 April, 2018, 3pm
Where | The Domain, Art Gallery NSW


Student Seminar: Winnie Wong – “Tales, Fables, and Anecdotes: Narrating Anonymity in Chinese Art”

When | Thursday 26 April, 2018
Where | Schaeffer Seminar Room, RC Mills
RSVP | Power Institute 



Lecture: Transcultural Attractions: Photographs of an Indian Dancer

Ajay Sinha | Professor of Art History, Asian Studies, and Film Studies programs at Mount Holyoke College.

When | Tuesday 29 May, 2018 6 – 7.30pm
Where | Old Geology Lecture Theatre


Film Screening: “Bombay Talkies”

When | Wednesday 23 May, 2018 7.15pm
Where | Domain Theatre, Art Gallery NSW