CAI GUO-QIANG COMMISIONED WORK CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART
Cai Guo-Qiang is celebrated for his “gunpowder drawings,” in which different types and colours of gunpowder are ignited against a surface, creating ethereal and smoky images. Commissioned by the Museum of Fine Art Houston (MFAH) early this October, Cai Guo-Qiang executed Odyssey, the largest gunpowder drawing he has made to date, on a span of 42 panels totalling 10 by 162 feet. The partnership between the museum and Cai Guo-Qiang was made possible by the museum’s curator of Asian art, Christine Starkman.
Even though Cai has been working on this project since January, he was so inspired by a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston where he viewed Chinese paintings and “browsed through an album of flowers,” that he made significant changes to the original plans, adding lotus, peonies and a scholar’s rock.
The creation process of Odyssey was made available to the public at a 25,000 square foot warehouse in the south of Houston. After five days of zealous work from Cai, along with his team and dozens of local volunteers, the ignition took place and was viewed by a number of fortunate members of the public including the museum’s donators. This was Cai’s first commissioned work made specifically for permanent collection by an American museum.
Cai, who has been working with gunpowder since the Eighties, stated at the “Odyssey” ignition evening:
“Sometimes, as an artist, I feel like I have behind me other true artists who work. This true artist is an invisible energy and power. I both revere it as I try to control it. At the same time, I anticipate and look forward to the spontaneous effects that are out of my control. This is what I’m going through. It’s why I’ve been using gunpowder all these years and would never let it go.” CultureMap
The finished piece is now permanently installed in the MFAH’s new Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Arts of China Gallery.
As noted in the MFAH press release, more commissioned work will also be conducted in the upcoming year:
“The commission is part of the MFAH’s developing “Portals Project.” This planned series of commissions from four contemporary artists is intended to provide a contemporary perspective onto the collections of Korean, Indian, Chinese and Japanese art that have been developed for this new suite of galleries over the past three years. Artist Do-Ho Suh has also been commissioned for the series, and will install his piece for the Arts of Korea gallery in January 2011.”
- MoMA Asia Art Archive collaborate launch Chinese art project with public programmes – September 2010 – documentary projects on development and growth of Chinese contemporary art
- A testimonial for Chinese contemporary art – ArtRadar speaks with Weng Ling – August 2010 – interview with Weng Ling, an essential figure over the course of Chinese contemporary art
- Ai Weiwei is next artist in Unilever Series at Tate Modern -March 2010 – installation project at Tate’s Turbine Hall
- China to use “soft power” of arts for international influence – January 2010 – China intentionally promotes art and artists to disseminate its political agenda globally
- Which museums art collecting Chinese contemporary art? – November 2009 – Chinese contemporary art in a permanent museum collection database