East Wind

Curated by Jonathan Kim

About the exhibition

East Wind, curated by Jonathan Kim, presents the works of six emerging artists from different East Asian cultural backgrounds. These artists, from Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Tibet and Mongolia, are connected through their visual arts degrees from the University of South Australia.

The exhibition reveals the artists’ experiences of creating new work in isolation, reflecting on their immediate and familial surroundings. Two of the artists who flew back to China and Japan at the beginning of 2020 and are now unable to return to Australia, created their work under different restrictions to the artists who remained here making work in South Australia, during the global pandemic.

East Wind highlights and celebrates the progression of these emerging artists currently living in South Australia from geographically, politically and socially distinct East Asian backgrounds.

Featuring Artists: Bin Bai, Jonathan Kim, Seiichi Kobayashi, FangYi Kuang, Truc Truong and Meng Zhang

Catalogue essay

Imagine the wind as Earth’s breath, an intangible vital force made visible only by its agency on all it touches. By its nature, it can never be static. Whether making landfall in the fury of a typhoon or sending gentle ripples across the surface of a pond, it is constantly moving, a dynamic agent for change.


The four winds were personified by civilisations all over the world, each culture ascribing its wind deities with powers that spoke to the way each acted on the lands they traversed. Whether they brought drought, rain, hail or hurricane depended on the terrain and waters they encountered, or on the intensity and position of the sun. Carrying memories of canyons and deserts, valleys and mountains, cities and forests, some winds bring seeds and soft, replenishing rains, while others arrive with such force that they demolish all they touch, inviting renewal, and progress towards sustainability.


Blowing here and there and back again, bending and weaving, the winds transform and are themselves transformed by the journeys they make.


When COVID-19 began closing borders in 2020, the fluid transnationalism of creative exchange was threatened with stasis. The overwhelming uncertainty that came with the pandemic impacted the practice of artists everywhere, whether through restricted travel across familiar borders, restricted access to studio space and materials, or through a renewed interrogation of artistic vision and practice in the light of such cataclysmic change.


East Wind showcases the work of six emerging contemporary artists from Mongolia, South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam and Tibet Autonomous Region. In curating, as well as contributing work to this exhibition, Korean artist Jonathan Kim invited his fellow UniSA graduates to contribute work they created during COVID isolation. Their experiences and practices vary according to where they were located during this time; while four of the artists remained sheltering in place in Adelaide, Seiichi Kobayashi and FangYi Kuang found themselves unable to return to Australia after their respective visits to Japan and China in the earlier part of 2020, and their work was shaped by different restrictions.


The individual visions of the six artists in this exhibition have been nourished by transcending geographic and cultural borders, as well as borders of the imagination. They each have carried seeds from familial places and fertilised them here on the lands of the Kaurna Nation, where the University of South Australia stands, and watered them with the diversity of their cultural experiences. Bin Bai, Jonathan Kim, Seiichi Kobayashi, FangYi Kuang, Truc Truong and Meng Zhang are united by their shared experience as fine arts graduates of UniSA, and though each carries a familial heritage that is culturally, politically, geographically distinct from the others, their collective representation as emerging East Asian artists affords a feeling of community, the strength in their shared commonality countering the isolation felt not only from the lockdowns of 2020, but from practicing in a contemporary Australian society that has been shaped by the hegemony of white settler culture.


It is this hegemony that situated post-colonial Australia as an outpost of the British Empire, instead of within the more geographically logical Asian region, and which shaped an academy that takes a predominantly Euro-centric approach in the training of visual artists – a position common to many art schools across the non-Caucasian world. While the historic reasons for this cannot be separated from the deep trauma that was inflicted, and continues to be inflicted on First Nations people, this Euro-centric focus on artistic training has informed and enriched the practices of these artists as much as their distinct heritages. The collision of these different perspectives create new dynamics, informing a liminal art practice that embodies fertile dialogue between sometimes paradoxical, oppositional forces. This ambiguity creates openings and opportunities for radical transformation, and radical transformation is what humanity needs in these disruptive times.


While the east wind is seen as a destructive force in some lands lying to the west, in the east, it is welcomed as a herald of spring. The east wind melts the ice. The artists of East Wind have created works that speak to continued transnational exchange and cross-fertilisation of ideas in spite of the stasis engendered by a global pandemic. They are exciting works that form the earliest stepping-stones for their emerging careers as contemporary artists in a changing Australia. We will eagerly watch their developing careers as the future unfolds.


Katherine Tamiko Arguile

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Meet the artists & curators

Jonathan Kim was born and raised in South Korea and spent most of his 20s in China and 30s in Australia. Like his nomadic life, Kim’s art contains various cultural elements. Kim’s core research places a deep importance on the relationship between a medium and its environmental factors, named as Gong-gan-seong (spatiality), which has been inspired by Korean artist Lee Ufan’s philosophy of Man-nam (Encounter).

Kim was awarded the Constance Gordon-Johnson Sculpture Prize and Linden New Art Award. Kim completed the British School at Rome Residency and Sauerbier House Culture Exchange Artist in Residence and currently works at the ACE Open studio.

Meng Zhang is a multidisciplinary artist, working in printmaking, drawing, sculpture, and installation.

Meng’s practice is centred around recording observations of daily life and examining connections between people who live in different geographical spaces, as well as the spaces extended by internet connectivity.

Born in Guilin, China, Fang-Yi Kuang, immigrated to Australia in 2006. She graduated from the University of South Australia in 2019 with a Bachelor in Contemporary Art 2019, and is currently living and working in Guilin, China.

Seiichi Kobayashi is a Japanese emerging artist, exploring our changing relationship to images under technological development. He has been creating abstract two-dimensional images through coding and presented them with various media. His complex use of mediums and strict process of image making investigate how each medium and technology works in our appreciation of images. As a Japanese artist, his aesthetic ideas are highly influenced by the Rinpa school, which is one of traditional schools of Japanese painting. His works revitalise the style and the idea of the traditional painting school with contemporary technologies.

Truc Truong is an emerging artist living and working on Kaurna land, exploring differences between Eastern and Western ideas. Working with various mediums, her work interrogates colonialism, exploring aspects of power and displacement, often through experiences and stories lived and retold by her family. Truong explores the use of materials and processes of making through the Du Boisian theory of double-consciousness, not actively looking at which identity to uphold but instead, supporting the maintaining of a ‘two-ness’ through her work.

Bin Bai (aka Gentsu Gyatso) is a multidisciplinary visual artist, who currently works and lives in South Australia. He uses paintings, sculptures, architecture and animated films to explore the transformation of traditional art and the culture in contemporary art realm. Born in Kham, Tibet, he studied art in the art institutions in Chongqing, Kassel and Adelaide and was granted a Master’s Degree in Fine Art and Design in 2004 and 2021 respectively.

Since 2002, Bin has participated in various exhibitions and given talks about his research and practise. By employing digital animation in visualising Tibetan grassroots oral literature, his 26 minutes animated film ‘The hunter and the skeleton’ (2012) was regarded as the first animated film by Tibetan artist and was among the official selections of scores of international film festival.

In parallel, Bin’s paintings and sculptures also look into the transformation of Tibetan art by elevating and representing aesthetics from his understanding of ancestral cultures and the links with our modern times. His latest painting project for his UniSA Master’s study was selected into the Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition 2021 and collected by private buyer as well as awarded the Graduate Exhibition Acquisition Prize 2020 by UniSA Creative.