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One of the world’s most dynamic contemporary artists currently working, Cai Guo-Qiang, created a gunpowder drawing Transience II (Peony) in Melbourne. The 31-meter art work created from fire and gunpowder is the largest of three works presented as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces, opening at NGV International, 24 May.

Located in a Williamstown warehouse, Cai drew complex patterns in gunpowder, layered upon 11 sections of silk before igniting it. The designed explosion scorches the intricate patterns onto the silk canvas, depicting the blooming process of the peony flower in reference to ancient Chinese culture.

Inspired by ancient Chinese culture and its enduring philosophical traditions, Cai has created all new works including Transience II for the NGV’s world premiere exhibition, Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape presented in parallel with Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality.

The exhibition will also feature a sculpture of porcelain peonies as well as a monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds. Spiralling over visitors’ heads, the birds create a three-dimensional impression of a calligraphic drawing of the sacred Mount Li, the site of the ancient tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, and his warriors. Cai will also collaborate on the exhibition’s design, creating immersive environments for the presentation of both his work and the Terracotta Warriors.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV said: “Cai Guo-Qiang is one of the most exciting contemporary artists working today. Cai’s practice draws parallels between ancient and contemporary Chinese culture, through the use of Chinese inventions like gunpowder, porcelain, silk and paper, exploring the notion that tradition and history can inform contemporary art.”

Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley said: “This explosive exhibition is the next blockbuster in the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series. Bringing together Chinese art and culture from the past and present, it will draw visitors from across the country and around the world to Melbourne—the cultural and creative capital of Australia.”

Jeff Xu, Founder and Managing Director, Golden Age Group said: “Cai Guo-Qiang is well-respected and greatly-admired artist. His vision and art form are something that no one has ever dared to dream of doing. Being bold, innovative and tenacious are some similar attributes that we at Golden Age Group share with Cai. We are proud to be supporting an artist and exhibition that boasts such significance to China, in our commitment to Melbourne’s rich arts and culture. We hope that this NGV 2019 Winter Masterpieces exhibition will help future generations learn more about the deep history of China and understand the values and traditions that we still hold true.”

Cai Guo-Qiang, international contemporary artist said: “I’ve used gunpowder in my art for the past 30 years. What I like most about it is its spontaneity and unpredictability. Every situation is different. It’s an unknown which you will accomplish with the help of an invisible force.”

I’ve used gunpowder in my art for the past 30 years. What I like most about it is its spontaneity and unpredictability. Every situation is different. It’s an unknown which you will accomplish with the help of an invisible force.

Presented in parallel, Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality is a large-scale presentation of the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Warriors, which, discovered in 1974 in China’s Shaanxi province, are regarded as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the twentieth century and widely described as the eighth wonder of the world. The exhibition will feature eight warrior figures and two life-size horses from the Imperial Army, as well as two half-size replica bronze chariots, each drawn by four horses.

This exhibition was organised by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in partnership with Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, Shaanxi History Museum, Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, and Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum of the People's Republic of China.

The Melbourne Winter Masterpieces presentation of Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality and Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape will be on display from 24 May — 13 October 2019 at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia.

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