From Andrew Frost…
There’s something weirdly reminiscent in Jason Phu’s work that’s hard to pin down. With a Chinese-Vietnamese heritage dislocated into the Australian vernacular, Phu’s work mixes traditional Chinese ink brush techniques with loose cartoons and fluid drawings, smashing together footy, beers, TV and the serene observations of the classics. But that oddly reminiscent vibe comes in part from the way the artist’s work recalls political cartoonists like Tanberg, as well as a faint echo of Warner Bros. cartoons, both mixed with bilingual irony and a deft, minimal touch.
The fat blob that is the fat man in They Needed a Thousand Cranes to Lift Him  is accompanied by Chinese text that translates as “the disgustingly obese man knows the most, for it is well known that the greatest analects of wisdom all came from the gut”. Likewise the boofhead footy player in I Once Scored a Thousand Goals In A Game  has text that reads: “I play for a team called the bulldogs. This is an appropriate name because we are a fearsome and ugly team”. Phu translates Australian culture for an international audience, and does it very well. Other works need little translation, such as What’s Up Doc : “I like the looney toons better than mickey mouse,” says a rabbit to a pig. So true.
Until March 18
The Hughes Gallery, Surry Hills
Pic: Jason Phu, What’s Up Doc, 2013. Ink on Chinese paper, 40x40cms.