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Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan is one of Australia’s most widely acclaimed artists and authors, celebrated internationally for his drawings, oil paintings, picture books and his Academy Award-winning animated short, The Lost Thing. What is it about Tan’s work that accounts for his wide appeal? Perhaps it is the magic of his drawings that charmingly reconfigure the familiar into the unfamiliar. Perhaps it is the marriage of whimsical figures to bleak environments, images that invite the viewer (or reader) to consider more than what is seen directly in his artwork. For Tan, simplicity does not mean an absence of sophistication, and it is little wonder that so many find his visual explorations of ideas engaging.

Tan’s works deal with themes of displacement, alienation and searching, as well as loneliness and depression. The more positive emotions, he notes, resolve themselves. But this...

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