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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape

NGV International's latest exhibition features a 31-metre artwork created from gunpowder, fire and silk — and 10,000 suspended porcelain birds.
By Marissa Ciampi
March 21, 2019
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Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape

NGV International's latest exhibition features a 31-metre artwork created from gunpowder, fire and silk — and 10,000 suspended porcelain birds.
By Marissa Ciampi
March 21, 2019
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A controlled explosion took place in a Williamstown warehouse this week — in the name of art, of course. The sound of gunfire was simply part of Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang's massive new work.

Transience II (Peony) is a 31-metre artwork created from gunpowder, fire and silk. It's the largest piece in Cai's latest exhibition The Transient Landscape, which will be presented as part of NGV International's Melbourne Winter Masterpieces from May 24 through October 13.

To create Transience II (Peony), Cai layered 11 sections of silk and drew colourful patterns in gunpowder throughout each. He then ignited the design, with the explosions meant to depict a blooming peony. This type of work is not new for the artist, who has used gunpowder in his art for over 30 years. Cai regularly draws inspiration from ancient Chinese culture and philosophy, using Chinese inventions like gunpowder, porcelain, silk and paper to show how history can inform contemporary art.

Transience II (Peony) is just one of three brand new works that Cai has created for the exhibition, which will also feature porcelain peony sculptures and an immersive installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds.

The Transient Landscape will be presented in tandem with Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality, one of China's most important ancient artworks — crafted between 221–206 BCE. This exhibition includes eight warrior figures and two life-size horses from the Imperial Army, plus two half-size replica bronze chariots, each drawn by four horses.

'Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape' and 'Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality' will exhibit as part of the NGV International's Melbourne Winter Masterpieces presentation, running from May 24 to October 13, 2019. For further details or to buy tickets, visit the NGV website.

Images 1-3: Cai Guo-Qiang, Murmuration (Landscape) 2019 by Tobias Titz. Image 4: Sean Fennessy. Image 5: Cai Guo-Qiang, Pulse (Mountain) 2019 by Tobias Titz. Images: Scott Barbour, Jason Edwards, Tom Ross.

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