Culture / Diplomacy: A Celebration of Artists Shaping Canada's Relationship with China
SFU Public Square and the Vancouver Art Gallery are proud to co-present an exclusive showcase featuring six leading artists who are defining, building, and shaping the connection between Canada and China. Guests will enjoy five short performances and hear from participating artists on how a China-Canada relationship informs their work.
Throughout the evening, we will explore how art and culture can inform human connection and enable us to cross oceans and borders, discover common ground, and build empathy and understanding.
Our special guests are Mark Rowswell (Dashan/大山), Chan Hon Goh, Wen Wei Wang, Hank Bull, Zheng Shengtian, and Howie Tsui. The evening will be moderated by Jan Walls.
Presented in partnership with the Vancouver Art Gallery
Mark Rowswell AKA Dashan has been called “the most famous foreigner in China”, where he has worked as media personality and cultural ambassador for over 25 years.
Born and raised in Canada, Rowswell began studying Chinese in the mid 1980s, first at the University of Toronto and later at Beijing University. While in Beijing, he became interested in xiangsheng 相声, a traditional form of comedic dialogue, and was soon appearing on national television under the stage name “Dashan”.
Repeated performances on television programs with audiences in the hundreds of millions gradually turned “Dashan” into a household name across China, and his media career expanded from comedy to dramatic acting to hosting cultural, diplomatic, educational and commercial programs & events. Over time, Dashan came to be seen as a cultural ambassador between China and the West and as a symbol of finding common ground between cultures, “a foreigner but not an outsider”.
In recent years Dashan has returned to his comedic roots, combining traditional Chinese comedy with modern stand-up in a ground-breaking solo show “Dashan Live”.
Chan Hon Goh, a Director at Goh Ballet Academy & Youth Company Canada, Prima Ballerina at the National Ballet of Canada.
With an illustrious stage career of over 20 years as Principal Dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, Ms. Goh is one of the most prolific artists of her generation. Her delicate lyricism and emotional depth personify the essence of numerous lead roles. In 2010 upon retiring from her performing career, Ms. Goh accepted the invitation to become the Director of Goh Ballet, to further her passion to inspire dancers of tomorrow and to provide students with opportunities to train with world-renowned teachers. Extending her reach and always advocating for the arts, Ms. Goh serves as a jury member for several international competitions. She guest instructs and sets choreography for some of the most renowned companies in the world and since 2009 has been the Executive Producer of Goh Ballet’s critically acclaimed The Nutcracker, a holiday tradition in the City of Vancouver.
Ms. Goh is a founding member of Vancouver’s Arts and Culture Policy Council, which assists in giving the creative community a voice. Her accomplishments, with irrepressible devotion to the enhancement of the cultural life of Canada, have garnered several prestigious awards including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the YWCA Women of Distinction Award and the New Pioneers Arts Award.
Wen Wei Wang began dancing professionally in China. In 1991 he came to Canada and joined the Judith Marcuse Dance Company and Ballet British Columbia. He received the Clifford E. Lee choreographic Award and the Rio Tinto Alcan and the Isadora Awards for Choreography. Wen Wei Dance, has toured across Canada, and has presented works at the International Dance Festival in Vancouver. Dancing on the Edge Festival, the Canada Dance Festival and the International Contemporary Dance Festival in Columbia, South America. The company has performed at the Venice Biennale Festival in Italy and in the Beijing National Performing Arts Centre and The Shanghai Grand Theatre With the Beijing Modern Dance Company in China. Wen Wei has choreographed eight full- length works for Wen Wei Dance. He has also choreographed for Alberta Ballet, Ballet Jorgen, Ballet B C, North West Dance Projects, Portland, U S, Les Ballets Jazz des Montreal, Arts Umbrella and SFU. He has choreographed the dance sections for the Vancouver Opera and the San Francisco Opera for Nixon in China. He received the RBC top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award 2013. Recently he has worked with the National Performing Arts Centre of China for the theatre company for "Hamlet". Wen Wei is an Associate Dance Artist of the National Arts Centre.
Hank Bull has been active on the Vancouver art scene since 1973. Associated with the Western Front, an artist-run centre, he is also co-founder of Centre A, the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, where he was executive director from 1999 until 2010. His practice includes visual and media arts, as well as telecommunications and collaborative social projects. An exhibition survey of his long and varied career, “Hank Bull: Connexion,” is currently on view at the Burnaby Art Gallery.
Zheng Shengtian is the Adjunct Director of Institute for Asian Art, Vancouver Art Gallery, the Founding Managing Editor of Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art and a Trustee of Asia Art Archive in America. He was the Chair of the Oil Painting Department in China Academy of Art, Hangzhou and a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota and San Diego State University. Zheng has organized and curated numerous exhibitions including Shanghai Modern, (Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, 2004), Art and China’s Revolution, (Asia Society Museum, New York, 2009) and Yellow Signal: New Media from China, (Vancouver, 2012).
He has been the Senior Curator for Asia of Vancouver Biennale since 2009 and won the Lifetime Achievement Award for his curatorial work. His current project Crossing Pacific focuses on the cultural dialogue between China and Latin America in Twentieth Century. In 2013 four volumes of Zheng Shengtian, Selected Writing on Art were published by China Academy of Art Press. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in the same year.
Howie Tsui (徐浩恩), a Vancouver based artist, was born in Hong Kong, and raised in Lagos and Canada. He holds a BFA from the University of Waterloo, and was awarded the Joseph Stauffer Prize (2005) from the Canada Council for most outstanding young artist. Select solo exhibitions: Carleton University Art Gallery, Montréal arts interculturels, Centre A (Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art), Gallery Wendi Norris (SF) and Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Group exhibitions: West Vancouver Museum, Doris McCarthy Gallery, Oakville Galleries, Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Boston University School of Fine Arts, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Jaime Torres Bodet Cultural Centre (Mexico City), Ikkan Art International (Singapore), Para Site (HK), Art Labor Gallery (Shanghai) and the National Gallery of Canada.
In his rigorous research-based practice, Tsui astutely blends socio-cultural issues and East Asian references with a distinctive underground aesthetic. He melds contemporary cultural allusions with those from manga, Canto-pop culture and Chinese and Japanese ghost stories, and is fascinated by the way that history, horror and the grotesque function in the present day. Tsui is also interested in how traditional forms of image-making – particularly that of Asian scroll painting – can be used to document and re-present the Chinese-Canadian experience.
Tsui’s new project, Retainers of Anarchy, opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery in spring 2017. He is represented by Art Labor Gallery, Shanghai.
Dr. Jan Walls is a Professor Emeritus in the Humanities Department at Simon Fraser University, where he was Founding Director of the David Lam Centre for International Communication and the undergraduate Asia-Canada Program. In addition to teaching Chinese and Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University, he also served as First Secretary for Cultural and Scientific Affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing (1981-83), and Senior Vice-President of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (1985-87), and is an Honorary Director of the Beijing Popular Performing Artists Society. He has published many translations of traditional Chinese poetry and prose. He is Past President of the Canadian Society for Asian Arts, and serves as an Honorary Advisor to several Chinese Canadian cultural organizations.