The fruits of the Chinese artist Cai Quo-Giang 's residency in Doha's Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art have just been revealed. The artist shows his ability for creating the most fragile of forms with the most caustic of materials - blasted gunpowder.
Doha presents 50 works by
[ Guo-Qiang ]
under the title of "Saraab", meaning "mirage" in Arabic, and the exhibition touches on the relationship between China and the Arab world. This isn't done too heavy-handedly either, from the sounds of things, as the mirage itself is posited as a possible metaphor for true inter-cultural translation.
As the images from the exhibition show (courtesy of Farah Atoui), there's a wonderfully mysterious element to the artist's style. His images look like the traces of cave paintings lit by torch light, and one of the pieces here, he uses shadow to create an illusory stampede of horses.
One of the most impressive works that has come out of the artist's time in Doha is a 18-metre long porcelain piece comprised of 480 panels from which blooming flowers seem to rise and curl up from their surfaces. In several public demonstrations of his practice during, the artist fired gunpowder on to this huge piece to create the word ?? (meaning "fragile"). It's certainly a powerful image.
Guo-Qiang was originally commissioned to produce this work for the 46th Venice Biennale. It shows two sailing boats in the style of his native Quanzhou, transporting silks and spices along the water-bound traditional trade routes that once linked the Arab and Chinese worlds throughout history.
To inaugurate the exhibition, Cai-Guo Qiang did a one-off explosive performance piece, entitled Black Ceremony, which really has to be seen to be believed. Taste the rainbow (of gunpowder) -
Great looking show, and well worth a weekend break to Doha, we say. More info
[ here ]
with a great video of the artist discussing his practice.