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A Huge Exhibition of China's Terracotta Warriors Is Coming to the NGV

It's one of two immersive exhibitions focusing on ancient and modern Chinese art heading to the Victorian gallery next winter.
By Sarah Ward
December 17, 2018
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A Huge Exhibition of China's Terracotta Warriors Is Coming to the NGV

It's one of two immersive exhibitions focusing on ancient and modern Chinese art heading to the Victorian gallery next winter.
By Sarah Ward
December 17, 2018
  shares

Back in 1982, Melbourne played host to one of China's most important ancient artworks: a collection of statues known as The Terracotta Army. Crafted between 221–206 BCE and first discovered in the Shaanxi province in 1974, it made its international debut at the National Gallery of Victoria — and now, 37 years later, it's returning for the NGV's 2019 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series.

Dubbed Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality, the five-month exhibition will feature eight warrior figures and two life-size horses from The Terracotta Army, alongside two half-size replica bronze chariots that are each drawn by four horses. They were created during the reign of China's first emperor Qin Shi Huang and were buried near his tomb more than 2200 years ago. The pieces coming to Melbourne only represent a fraction of the entire work, which numbers more than 8000 figures in total.

If you're wondering how big of a deal the statues are, the answer is very. The Terracotta Army is considered one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century and has also been described as the 'Eighth' Wonder of the World. Displaying at the NGV from May 24 to October 13, 2019, the selected pieces will be accompanied by more than 150 other ancient Chinese treasures sourced from museums and Shaanxi archaeological sites. Expect to rove your eyes over priceless gold, jade and bronze artefacts that date back more than 3000 years, charting China's artistry across the country's formative period.

Here's The Terracotta Army in all its glory:

Looking to the present as well as the past, the NGV's winter season will also celebrate acclaimed Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. His work is no stranger to Australia — in 2014, Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art hosted its own showcase — however, his Melbourne exhibition will feature all new pieces. With Cai known for his large-scale installations, The Transient Landscape will include 10,000 porcelain birds suspended in a spiral formation, in an artwork that links to The Terracotta Army. Specifically, it'll create a 3D version of a calligraphic drawing that depicts Mount Li, which is where Qin Shi Huang and his terracotta warriors were buried.

Another of Cai's new works will feature a porcelain sculpture of peonies placed in the middle of a 360-degree gunpowder, with his entire show taking inspiration from Chinese culture and philosophy. The world-renowned talent will also help design Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality, making the two concurrent exhibitions as immersive as possible.

'Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality' and 'Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape' 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: The terracotta army, Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE), Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum, Xi'an.

Published on December 17, 2018 by Sarah Ward

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