ARC ONE is delighted to present John Young’s None Living Knows, the latest instalment in the artist’s multi-project exploration of the Chinese diaspora in Australia since 1840. Highly regarded in Australia and internationally for his commitment to intellectual rigor and aesthetic finesse, in None Living Knows Young poetically captures a scarcely documented event in Australian history.
During the late nineteenth century, Chinese immigrants and miners walked from Darwin through the vast Northern Territory to Croydon, and as far as Cairns on Queensland’s east coast, in search of gold. Intermittent and often alone, the walkers trailed a perilous and unmapped two thousand kilometres that resulted in many deaths. ‘None Living Knows’ – words drawn from a W. B. eats poem – echo this forgotten narrative.
Young meditates on this walk with a series of abstract paintings and his signature tableau of chalkboard drawings and digital prints. Large-scale and meticulously painted canvases evoke gures dissolved in the landscape through molten veils of light and colour. Tracing the mental and spiritual passage of culturally displaced men in pursuit of a new life, Young takes inspiration from early modernists such as Hilma af Klimt, whose work explored theosophy and the mystic through abstraction. The works in this exhibition are beautiful and melancholic responses to the psychological endurance, feeling of hope, and quest for spiritual transcendence oung envisions in these men.
John Young Zerunge was born in Hong Kong in 1956 and moved to Australia in 1967. Young read philosophy of science and aesthetics at the University of Sydney and then studied painting and sculpture at Sydney College of the Arts. His investigation of Western late modernism prompted signi cant phases of work from a bi-cultural viewpoint, and he has devoted a large part of his three-decade career towards regional development in Asia, participating in many regional group travelling exhibitions including Asialink’s Art from Australia: Eight Contemporary Views, (1991, South East Asian Museums), Transcultural Painting (1994-5, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong), Systems End (1996, Japan and Korea) and Antipodean Currents (1995, Guggenheim Museum USA). Young has regular solo exhibitions in Australia and also shows in Berlin and Hong Kong.
In 2005-06, a survey exhibition covering 27 years of works was held at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, Victoria, curated by Maudie Palmer. A second survey exhibition, The Bridge and the Fruit Tree, covering works from 2000- 2012 was exhibited in February-March 2013 at Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra. Three separate monographs have been written on John Young’s works and projects by Dr. Graham Coulter-Smith (1993, Schwartz City Publications); and Dr. Carolyn Barnes and William Wright AM (2005, Craftsman House, Thames & Hudson); and Dr Carolyn Barnes, Professor Jacqueline Lo and Terence Maloon (Australian National University Drill Hall Gallery. In September 2017, Young will release a new publication of The Macau Days with novelist Brian Castro, supported by the J.M Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. John Young’s work features in prominent museum collections in Australia and internationally, and recently has been acquired in depth by M+ Museum, Hong Kong.
Press release courtesy Arc One Gallery.
There is a remarkable history in Australia; one that is scarcely known. As artist John Young's exhibition title surmises, None Living Knows ; a line borrowed from a W.B. Yeats poem. Like many histories in Australia that don't fit the dominant European narrative, it remains only a soft murmur.