BNE Magazine_ISSUE#2_COVER_LR - page 14

what’s on
ew York-based, Chinese-born artist Cai
Guo-Qiang is perhaps best known for
his talent for blowing up things in the
name of art – about a billion people witnessed
the worldwide telecast of his pyrotechnics at
the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic
Games in 2008. But his first solo exhibition
in Australia, showing exclusively at Brisbane’s
Gallery of Modern
Art (GOMA) until
May 2014, sees
the artist shift his
focus to a more
serene environment
inspired by South
East Queensland
The exhibition
at GOMA will
feature five works,
four of them
created specifically
for the Brisbane
is an installation of
99 life-like animals
drinking together from a lake surrounded by
pristine white sand that evokes the islands
of Brisbane’s Moreton Bay, while
features an enormous tree extending the length
of GOMA’s Long Gallery.
They are more than a creative interpretation
of the artist’s imagination. In 2011 Cai
(rhymes with ‘sigh’) took a 10-day trip with
his wife and daughter, visiting Lamington
National Park, Stradbroke Island, Port
Douglas, Daintree Rainforest, Mossman
Gorge and the Great Barrier Reef. Their tour
guides were Russell Storer, curator of GOMA’s
current exhibition, along with Patrick Couper
A new exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art celebrates the natural
wildlife of South East Queensland and more...
Wild kingdom
and Andrew Amey, flora and fauna experts
from Queensland Museum and Sciencentre’s
Biodiversity Program.
Cai’s memories of the experience are vivid.
“I still recall taking a walk in the forest at
Lamington National Park in the middle of the
night to look for creatures, where I experienced
the nocturnal atmosphere of the forest like a
child. I saw many tree-dwelling animals’ eyes
blinking in the darkness – red, yellow and
green – all belonging to different animals,” he
tells BNE magazine through an interpreter.
“During the day, we hiked in search of
a waterfall in the depths of the National
Park, before taking the pains to hike back,
nonetheless cheerful and content. On
Stradbroke Island I saw Brown Lake – a clear
blue lake where you can see to the bottom –
and its pristine snow-white sand beaches.
Through these experiences my ideas of
the exhibition gradually took form. After my
trip to Queensland, I realised that if this place
is the last piece of pure and heavenly terrain
on Earth without any problems, that alone
illustrates that Earth as a collective whole has a
problem, and human beings have a problem.
The project finally started with this realisation
and understanding.”
postures of the animals in
carefully considered, says the artist, and all are
fairly uniform with heads humbly lowered to
drink water from the pool conveying a sense
of religious solemnity. The shapes and muscles
of the animals have also been deliberately
exaggerated, paying particular attention to
their features when they drink the water.
It’s the biggest single artist show the gallery
has ever mounted and hydraulic engineers
were consulted to make sure the building
could withstand the sheer volume of water in
the specially-made “lake”.
A multimedia
workshop for
children, called
Let’s Create
an Exhibition
with a Boy
Named Cai, will
provide access
to an interactive
app, images for
print and other
provided by
the gallery
so they can
and install
their own
interpretations of Cai’s works in a scale model
of an exhibition.
Tree stumps scattered on the floor alongside
in the gallery’s Long Hall are there
for children to sit on. “Children can sit and
think about what they can do with this tree.
They can talk about its past and its future;
based on the children’s suggestions, the tree
could become a new artwork,” says Cai.
“I hope they will not simply look at the
works but also initiate a dialogue with me and
take part in the creative process through the
interactive exhibition. This, I believe, will be
most rewarding.”
Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth
a ticketed exhibition showing at GOMA,
South Brisbane until 11 May 2014.
“I am shifting my focus
from the cosmos back
to earth. I am
interested in the
unseen spirituality”
Cai Guo-Qiang
(artist’s impression)
2013 commissioned for the
Cai Guo-Qiang:
Falling Back to Earth
QAGOMA, courtesy the artist
Photo by Lin Yi, courtesy Cai Studio
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