Advocacy, policy and action for an Australian arts sector that's ambitious and fair

Damien Shen

Damien Shen aims to open the eyes of viewers to new ways of seeing Australian identity and Aboriginal art.

Damien Shen is a South Australian man of Ngarrindjeri and Chinese bloodlines. His artistic practice is embedded in histories, revisiting the people, places and stories that shape the world he occupies.

Shen is constantly constructing and deconstructing the world around him through drawing, painting and photography, using the creative process to better understand his identity and the identity of those that help to shape the world he lives. While he pushes his practice across different mediums his content remains relevant to contemporary Australian issues around race, history and politics. 

He is currently showing at as part of VIETNAM - One In, All In, an exhibition sharing untold stories of Aboriginal South Australian veterans of the Vietnam War at Tandanya, Adelaide until 1 June 2019. Upcoming group shows include Unbranded at La Trobe Art Institute, Bendigo and ‘While You Were Sleeping’ at the National University of Australia, ACT, both opening in May.  

Recent exhibitions include the Where We Meet collaboration with Robert Hague at the Castlemaine State Festival (2019), Spring 1883 in Melbourne, Resolution: new Indigenous photomedia, NGA Tour at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, NSW (2018); Not Fair at Windsor, Vic, Romancing the skull at Ballarat Art Gallery, Vic, BLAK MIRROR at Gallery Lane Cove, Lane Cove, NSW, On the fabric of the Ngarrindjeri body Vol II at CS Gallery, Melton, Vic, Speaking as country Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, SA and Looking at You Through Me, Campbelltown Arts Centre, NSW (2017).

In May 2017, Shen was part of the SALA Artist delegation to Jinan (Shandong, China) and in 2016 undertook a residency with the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection (Virginia, USA). Shen was awarded the 64th Blake Prize (emerging category) in 2016, and the Prospect Portraiture Prize in 2015.

In 2000, Shen completed a Bachelor of Visual Communications (Illustration) at the University of South Australia.

Damien Shen is represented by MARS Gallery, Melbourne.

In this video, Shen chats to NAVA about the instrumental impact of receiving awards and undertaking international residencies to his career trajectory.

Production: Dominic Kirkwood

Photo: Sia Duff