Welcome to Babel

Chinese-Australian artist Jiawei Shen began to gain recognition as a painter in his homeland during the Cultural Revolution. But a painting of heroes of the nationalist movement became notorious, and prompted his emigration to Australia with his wife, the artist Lan Wang, in 1989. He is now widely acclaimed in Australia. He has been painting his sprawling allegory of communism, ‘Tower of Babel’, over the last seven years. It occupies the three-storeys of his studio and depicts hundreds of famous and infamous characters who were in thrall to Chinese communism, as well as many who lost their lives to the Revolution. Welcome to Babel is an intimate documentary portrait of Jiawei as he paints his opus in which he and Lan Wang talk of life in Mao’s China, surviving the Great Famine and the horrific events of Tiananmen Square

Welcome to Babel is directed by James Bradley and produced by Graeme Isaac. Caitlin Yeo adds the musical palette. Listen to a selection of her music

Welcome to Babel premiered at the 2024 Sydney Film Festival. Watch the trailer