Afterword by Michelle de Kretser
Foreword by John Wolseley
Commentaries by Sophie Cunningham
W. H. Chong has designed books for Text Publishing since its inception, but he has also been making other art all that time. The 300 portraits in this book are taken from drawings and paintings he has made over the last five to ten years.
In Portraits, with Chong as our guide, we encounter local legends as well as national icons — a unique group portrait of our cultural scene. Portraits is a joyous love letter to those who have followed their passions down less-travelled roads, our culture-makers in all their inspiring variety.
Among the well-known we meet Benjamin Law, Clare Wright, David Malouf, Elizabeth Harrower, Gareth Liddiard, Gerald Murnane, Heather B Swann, Helen Garner, Jack Charles, Jan Senbergs, Judith Brett, Kate Grenville, Les Murray, Michelle de Kretser, Paul Kelly and many more.
Gorgeously illustrated from cover to cover, Portraits is a beautifully produced hardback of 256 pages, with delightfully rounded corners.
‘How many artists can catch a human likeness in about three minutes, with the subject in motion? Chong possesses a rare talent and we are lucky to have him here in our time, surreptitiously recording the noble heads of Melbourne’s creative crowd.’
‘Chong’s book is VERY RICH. I can’t believe how it keeps on deepening and widening, the more I turn the pages. I was really surprised by his drawing of me. I thought, ‘Oh! maybe once or twice I was worthy of being loved.’
‘It’s very likely W. H. Chong designed the cover of your favourite book. And now he’s gone ahead and made your favourite book. Portraits is an absolute gift of a thing, effortlessly capturing the face – and soul – of what Australia looks like now in a series of portraits that are delightful, gorgeous and deft. (Also, those rounded corners? Sexy.)’
‘Chong’s book of portraits is a beautiful thing. He should be proud. I’m proud to be in it.’
‘It is this commitment to deep intense observation which has proved so fruitful in this selection of drawings. Chong shows us his unique skill at unpicking the shape of a human form and putting it back together full of life, energy and spirit.’
‘Chong’s Portraits looks FABULOUS.’
‘I’m getting a sore arm and shoulder from turning the pages. What I think is so good about Chong’s Portraits is THE DRAWINGS. Every person is themselves; their shape, the way they look and lean their head, and the way they have each been given their own drawing style. Likeness is there, but also something more, and when there are so many it takes on a whole new feeling. A community, a tribe of like-minded people. It’s some kind of masterpiece.’
‘Oh my … what a treasure to have Chong’s drawings together in print and not just on my Insta feed. And such a package! Portraits is bloody beautiful.’
‘“When I see someone I want to draw them,” says Chong. His accomplished portraits vividly illuminate that which is crucial to creativity — the desire of the artist.’
‘Turning the pages of this exquisitely produced volume of portraits is like being at a party of a who’s-who of musos, artists and the literary crowd in Australia.’
‘Chong’s Portraits is richly engaging and very human. And so elegantly executed.’
‘It’s an instant classic.’
‘What a gem. It’s a record of our time done with brilliance and sensitivity. A major work in a small package.’
‘Chong knows exactly where to draw the line—between the eyes, and direct to the soul.’
‘Extremely impressed by the quality of drawing. I think Portraits is a masterwork, actually.’
‘Chong’s drawings defy the gloss and surface of the contemporary self-performed world we consume through Instagram and the like. They speak to the commitment of a singular pursuit which reveals more than one can ever expect.’
‘This book is such a work of art … stacked to the brim with beautiful, revealing portraits. It is a record of our times. Portraits is a keeper.’
‘Portraits is breathtakingly stunning.’
‘Portraits is wonderful. It’s very exciting, and the tone is perfect in design and content for the range of personalities inside. Such an enjoyable page-turner!’
‘Portraits is glorious! I will treasure it always. Absorbing it is a delight. Chong’s drawings are “absolutely beautiful”, like Plath’s child’s “clear eye”, & so full of light, movement & spirit. I adore their music, textures & disparatenesses.’
‘A striking, vibrant book.’