Sunday, April 13, 2008

Report from the Guggenheim

This week I went to the Cai Guo-Qiang retrospective at the Guggenheim, which everyone's been talking about. So now here I am joining the conversation! My last write-up I posted was a bit on the pessimistic side, so this show was a breath of fresh air. It’s really reaffirming to come across an artist with a substantial body of interesting work who I never knew existed. It reminds me there are so many more fabulous artists out there for me to discover.

Guo-Qiang is a Chinese artist who references Chinese heritage and cultural symbols to comment on contemporary society. He also is fascinated with finding beauty in destruction…I think you'll enjoy his work!

Ninety-nine life-size wolves running up the incline of the Guggenheim and colliding with a glass wall (the same thickness of the Berlin wall) representing how we’re doomed to repeat our mistakes.

Tigers in midair radiating with arrows in a beautiful spectacle of man versus nature.

Five flipping cars suspended in the center of the museum with rays of sparking lights emanating from them in beautiful explosions.

Giant scorched drawings made of gunpowder, a material steeped in historical significance. (Oh look, there's the artist!)

Who knew fire and explosions could be so pretty? This piece of his is called Red Flag.

I can see why there are lines down the block every weekend for this show, it really is unique. It’s imaginative and serious…emotive and curious. The manipulation of real objects combined with its historical context makes his sculptures feel like archeological artifacts. And I found his metaphors very universal and graspable. I also especially respected the collaborative spirit in his work (including films of the creation of his larger scale pyrotechnic works), and how his pieces allow the viewer to interact (sometimes literally) with the sculptures.

He is overseeing the opening and closing ceremonies of the ’08 Olympics in Beijing, so keep an eye out for his wild fireworks display. Well, like his show at the Guggenheim…I’m sure it’ll be hard to miss.

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