• Terracotta Warriors & Cai Guo-Qiang (National Gallery Victoria)

A juxtaposition of past and present, this exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria is seeing Melbournians flocking to their art and culture heartland.

What is the story? Modern Chinese artist, Cai Guo-Qiang sets up his panoramic installations and sculptures alongside the original terracotta warriors, shipped from Xi’an, Shaanxi. The terracotta warriors are widely known as one of the greatest archaeological findings of last century, with hundreds of these statues leading the Qin Dynasty Emperor into the afterlife. Melbourne has managed to display eight of the original warriors, as well as two-full-sized horses and two replica half sized chariots. There are also artefacts from the Zhou to Han Dynasties including gold, jade and bronze dating back to as early as 1050 BCE.

Despite the awe that the warriors inspire, it was the later works of Cai Guo-Qiang that attracted me the most. Using colourful gun powder, his landscapes and flower artworks are an enticement of random but beautiful shapes. He created these in a warehouse in Williamstown, where he would draw then literally set fire to his art in a dramatic display. Despite the violent creation, his works are somehow fluid and peaceful.

Alongside the gun-powder art at thousands of birds, individually shaped and also coloured with gun powder.

Just some of the thousands of hanging birds throughout the exhibition.

I had heard Cai Guo-Qiang talk about his work and read about it too, but in this case, it is not the background and the process that is interesting, but more the results.

The Terracotta Warriors & Cai Guo-Qiang are showing at the National Gallery of Victoria until 13 October.

Peonies by Cai Guo_Qiang coloured with gun powder

Terracotta Warriors & Cai Guo-Qiang
National Gallery of Victoria
180 St Kilda Road
Melbourne 3006

Opening hours:
Daily 10:00am to 5:00pm until 13 October