Posts Tagged ‘Chinese art

26
Sep
19

Exhibition: ‘Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 24th May – 13th October 2019

 

Censer 灰陶熏炉 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Censer
灰陶熏炉
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Xi’an Museum, Xi’an

 

 

The best thing about this exhibition were the beautiful lidded containers, flasks, everyday vessels and censers; cows, sows, goats, mythical creatures and smaller soldiers. The female attendant was divine.

Other than that I refrain from comment for fear of incriminating myself!

(perhaps a yawn would suffice)

Marcus

 

Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. All photographs are iPhone images © Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Epic accounts of China’s ruling dynasties, philosophies, inventions and social customs during ancient times have been passed down through the centuries in the writings of philosophers, imperial scribes and military strategists. However, it was not until archaeologists in the twentieth century unearthed evidence – masterful bronzes, delicately crafted jades and boldly decorated ceramics – that the advanced levels of civilisation, artistry and refined aesthetics that existed in the past were more fully revealed. This provided a greater understanding of the rituals, social customs, preparation for the afterlife and quest for immortality that remained central to Chinese culture.

The greatest discovery of all was in 1974, when local farmers digging an irrigation well in Lintong district, Xi’an, unearthed fragments of the terracotta warriors. With this astounding discovery the legends of ancient China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, were confirmed. In their size and number, the terracotta warriors are unique in world history and signify Qin Shihuang’s quest for immortality, his affiliation with China’s mythical rulers, and his supreme imperial mandate as the son of heaven.

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria website

 

 

Lacquered vessel, Ding 陶胎漆鼎 Warring States period, 475 - 221 BCE

 

Lacquered vessel, Ding
陶胎漆鼎
Warring States period, 475 – 221 BCE
Lacquer on earthenware
Shangluo City Museum, Shangluo

 

Lidded container, He (left) 彩绘陶盒 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Lidded container, He (left)
彩绘陶盒
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

Lidded container, He (right)
彩绘陶盒
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

 

Jar for storing grain (left) 彩绘陶仓 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Jar for storing grain (left)
彩绘陶仓
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

Jar for storing grain (right)
彩绘陶仓
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an

 

 

Ceramic ware with boldly painted decoration became widely used as substitutes for bronze vessels during the Qin (221 – 207 BCE) and Han (207 BCE – 220 CE) dynasties. The spontaneous and energetic decoration indicates they were produced in large numbers and therefore affordable to the general public. Vessels like these were used as utensils in daily life as well as modest tomb ware to contain provisions for the afterlife, like grain, wine and other foods. Ceramic ware like water pourers or incense burners also served as affordable utensils used in ceremonies and rituals.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Flask, Hu 彩绘陶壶 Spring and Autumn period, 771 - 475 BCE

 

Flask, Hu
彩绘陶壶
Spring and Autumn period, 771 – 475 BCE
Earthenware, pigments
Longxian County Museum, Baoji

 

 

These Han dynasty ceramic vessels maintain the elegant shapes and decorative features of Zhou dynasty bronze vessels produced 1000 years earlier. Free-flowing painted designs reference nature motifs and auspicious subjects like clouds and dragons. The Four-sided flask displays ringed handles in solid relief on either side in a direct reference to identically shaped bronze vessels from the Zhou dynasty.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Hollow brick with snake and tortoise 玄武纹空心砖 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Hollow brick with snake and tortoise
玄武纹空心砖
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Maoling Museum, Xingping

 

 

The Qin state capital city changed location on numerous occasions before establishing its grandest city and ultimate capital at Xianyang in 350 BCE. Vast palaces were constructed with wooden structures and clay-tiled roofs. Palaces were decorated with magnificent murals that featured geometric and floral designs as well as figures and animals. At the fall of the Qin empire in 207 BCE, the palaces were destroyed, with the grandest of them, Epang Palace, so large it reportedly burned for more than three months. Today, nothing but foundations remain; however, an idea of their grandeur and decoration can be gained from bricks and roof tiles. Four of the bricks display the four protective spirits representing each of the cardinal directions: the turtle (north), dragon (east), vermilion bird (south) and tiger (west).

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Flask, Hu 彩绘陶壶 Spring and Autumn period, 771 - 475 BCE

 

Flask, Hu
彩绘陶壶
Spring and Autumn period, 771 – 475 BCE
Earthenware, pigments
Longxian County Museum, Baoji

 

 

Ritual objects and ancestral treasures

Before the establishment of a nationally unified state by Emperor Qin Shihuang in 221 BCE, China had a long history of opposing kingdoms, self-governing territories and dynasties whose customs, beliefs and refined artisanship influenced the Qin dynasty and its creativity. Family prestige, social harmony and a belief in immortality and the afterlife were central to the creation of auspicious and ceremonial objects used for burial rituals, ancestor worship and encouraging good fortune. This gallery displays some of the most exquisitely crafted of these objects, produced from the beginning of the Zhou dynasty to the end of the Han dynasty (1046 BCE – 220 CE).

Jade was believed to possess magical powers that could maintain the human life force of air or breath after death, and beautifully carved jade objects would often accompany bodies in burial to help purify the deceased’s soul for its journey to the afterlife. Bronze objects with decorative motifs and inscriptions were created to represent a symbolic connection to China’s earliest dynasties and a ‘mandate from heaven’ to rule. Gold is thought to have been introduced to China from Central Asia and was mostly used for decoration on clasps, buckles and ceremonial objects.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Belt plaque 金牌饰 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Belt plaque
金牌饰
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Gold, jade, agate, turquoise
Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an

 

 

In contrast to jade, which symbolised wealth and spiritual purity, and bronze, used to produce ritual objects, gold was used to a lesser extent and served a primarily decorative purpose. The tradition of using gold for personal adornment is believed to have come to China from Central Asia, and gold became a favoured material from the Spring and Autumn period (771 – 475 BCE) onwards. Objects that represented personal status, such as belt hooks, belt plaques and personal adornments, were usually cast in solid gold and often featured stylised geometric dragon motifs and inlaid semiprecious stones like turquoise and agate.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou 四神兽面纹玉铺首 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou 四神兽面纹玉铺首 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Door ring holder in the form of a mythological beast, Pushou
四神兽面纹玉铺首
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Jade
Maoling Museum, Xingping

 

 

This impressive door ring holder (pushou) in the form of a taotie mythological beast mask would support a large ring from its lower section and be positioned in the centre of doors or gateways. Its size is evidence of the grandeur of the palace or mausoleum building it once adorned. Its fierce appearance, with bulging eyes, was believed to ward off evil spirits, and its curling motifs ingeniously incorporate the four protective spirits in each corner. The four holy creatures are (clockwise from top left) the white tiger, the azure dragon, the vermilion bird and the black tortoise.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

In a dual presentation of Chinese art and culture past and present, the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series at the National Gallery of Victoria will present China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors alongside a parallel display of new works by one of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang, at NGV International, May 2019.

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.

These sculptures will be contextualised by an unprecedented Australian presentation of more than 150 exquisite ancient treasures of Chinese historic art and design lent by leading museums and archaeological sites from across Shaanxi province. These include priceless gold, jade and bronze artefacts that date from the Western Zhou through to the Han dynasties (1046 BC – 220AD). Illuminating more than a millennium of Chinese history, the exhibition will showcase the magnificence and authority of the once-entombed figures and reveal, through the intricate display of accompanying objects and artefacts, the sophistication that characterised the formative years of Chinese civilisation.

Presented in parallel, Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape, will see contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang, create all new art works inspired by his home country’s culture and its enduring philosophical traditions, including 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 collaborate on the exhibition’s design, creating breathtaking immersive environments for the presentation of both his work and the Terracotta Warriors.

Drawing on Cai’s understanding of ancient Chinese culture and his belief that a dialogue with tradition and history can invigorate contemporary art, he will also create a monumental porcelain sculpture of peonies, placed at the centre of a 360-degree gunpowder drawing.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV said: ‘Thirty-six years ago, in 1982, the National Gallery of Victoria presented the first international exhibition of China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors only several years after their discovery. History will be made again in 2019, when the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Army will return to the NGV for the 2019 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series – this time in a sophisticated dialogue with the work one of China’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang.’

Of the parallel presentation, Cai said: ‘They are two rivers of time separated by two millennia, each creating a course at their own individual speed across a series of shared galleries. The ancient and the contemporary – two surges of energy that crisscross, pull, interact and complement each other, generating a powerful tension and contrast, each attracting and resisting the other.’

Jeff Xu, Founder and Managing Director, Golden Age Group said: ‘This exhibition will inspire Australian and international audiences to delve deeper into the many rich and diverse facets of China’s heritage. As Principal Partner, Golden Age is pleased to support such an ambitious world-exclusive showing in Victoria,  demonstrating our commitment to Melbourne as the cultural capital. We believe this exhibition will leave a lasting impression on this city for decades to come.’

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.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria [Online] Cited 14/07/2019

 

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured general 铠甲将军俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Armoured general
铠甲将军俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

This general, the largest of the terracotta warriors in the exhibition, has a distinguished beard and moustache and displays a stance of importance. His position of authority is indicated by his headdress, which is the same style as that of the adjacent unarmoured general, and is further enforced by decorative tassels on his chest and back that act as insignias of rank. Generals and other high-ranking officers wore long armoured tunics that tapered from the waist to a triangular shape at the front, protecting their vital organs.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Armoured military officer
中级铠甲军吏俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Standing warriors weigh between 150 and 300 kilograms and usually consist of seven different parts: a plinth, feet, legs, torso, arms, hands and head. Clay was kneaded by foot, and the torso section was built up with a coil layering technique. Other parts were created by pressing soft clay into moulds, in a process similar to making roof tiles or drainage pipes. To give each warrior a unique appearance, different moulds were used and the position of fingers and arms was manipulated while the clay was soft. Folds of clothing or armour plates were added to the torso, and head features were developed with additional small pieces of clay to define the cheekbones, chin, ears, nose and hair.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Standing archer 立射俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Standing archer 立射俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Standing archer 立射俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Standing archer
立射俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

The release of energy and sense of movement at the moment of firing an arrow results in archers displaying the most elegant and dramatic stances of all the terracotta warriors. The standing archer’s feet are slightly parted for balance, and he stares intently into the distance as if following the flight of an arrow just released from his bow. Displaying the topknot and braiding of a warrior, he wears a simple gown that allows freedom of movement. When created, the warriors were painted in bright colours and coated with lacquer, but this colouring had mostly been lost by the time of their excavation. New techniques of colour preservation are currently being developed at the terracotta warriors site.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Unarmoured infantryman 战袍武士俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Unarmoured infantryman
战袍武士俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Unarmoured or light infantrymen are distinguished by their hair gathered in a top knot and their absence of armour. Their simple robes and low-slung belts give them a less military appearance; however, their half-closed right hand would have originally held a sword. We can clearly see that this figure has been reconstructed from many small broken parts. Of more than 2000 warriors unearthed to date, none have been discovered intact. It is speculated that shortly after their completion at the fall of the Qin dynasty, the victorious Han entered the terracotta warriors’ underground passages, smashed the contents and set the wooden passages on fire.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

Terracotta warriors

The discovery of the terracotta warriors, one of the most significant archaeological finds of the twentieth century, was made by chance. In March 1974, seeking water during a period of drought, local farmers began digging an irrigation well in Lintong district, Xi’an. Little more than a metre below ground, they unearthed fragments of the terracotta army, including a warrior’s head and a group of bronze arrowheads. Had the farmers commenced their digging a metre to the east, the warriors may have remained undetected.

The enormous tomb mound of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, is located 1.5 kilometres from the terracotta warriors. While this has been the Qin emperor’s recognised tomb site over the centuries, astoundingly the creation of the warriors who guarded it was never recorded and knowledge of their existence was lost over time. It was recorded that the emperor employed and conscripted up to 700,000 workers to construct his mausoleum, the terracotta army and other buried items, making it the largest and most ambitious mausoleum construction in China’s history. To date, approximately 2000 of an estimated 8000 warriors have been excavated, and the pieces on display here represent the variety of individuals created, their positions within the army and their styles of apparel.

 

The first emperor’s mausoleum, according to the grand historian

Han dynasty historian and scribe Sima Qian (145 – 86 BCE) wrote a detailed account of the construction and interior of Qin Shihuang’s mausoleum in his text Records of the Grand Historian – Basic Annals of Qin:

‘In the ninth month, the First Emperor was interred at Mount Li. When he first came to the throne, the digging and preparation work began. Later, when he had unified China, 700,000 men were sent there from all over the empire. They dug through three layers of groundwater, and poured in bronze for the outer coffin. Palaces and scenic towers for a hundred officials were constructed, and the tomb was filled with rare artefacts and wonderful treasure. Craftsmen were ordered to make crossbows and arrows primed to shoot at anyone who entered the tomb. Mercury was used to simulate the hundred rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow River, and the great sea, and set to flow mechanically. Above were representations of the heavenly constellations, below were the features of the land. Candles were made from fat of “man-fish”, calculated to burn and not extinguish for a long time. The Second Emperor said: “It would be inappropriate for the concubines of the late emperor who have no sons to be out free”, [and] ordered that they should accompany the dead, and a great many died. After the burial, it was suggested that it would be a serious breach if the craftsmen who constructed the mechanical devices and knew of its treasures were to divulge those secrets.

Therefore after the funeral ceremonies had completed and the treasures [had been] hidden away, the inner passageway was blocked, and the outer gate lowered, immediately trapping all the workers and craftsmen inside. None could escape. Trees and vegetation were then planted on the tomb mound such that it resembles a hill.’

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Armoured military officer 中级铠甲军吏俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Armoured military officer
中级铠甲军吏俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

Civil official 文官俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Civil official 文官俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Civil official 文官俑 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Civil official
文官俑
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

In preparation for the afterlife, Emperor Qin Shihuang not only produced a terracotta army for his protection, but also ceramic administrators to look after government and civil affairs. This terracotta figure was discovered at a site adjacent to the emperor’s tomb, more than a kilometre from the terracotta army. Twelve civil officials were discovered, as well as the bones of twenty actual horses, one chariot and one charioteer. The officials all feature moustaches and a small tuft of chin hair and wear small hats believed to symbolise their status as officials or public conveyances. The attire of some civil officials includes baggy robes and a belt from which a pouch (presumably carrying a sharpening stone) and knife (to inscribe bamboo slats used for record keeping) hang.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

Chariot horse 车马 Qin dynasty, 221 - 207 BCE

 

Chariot horse
车马
Qin dynasty, 221 – 207 BCE
Earthenware
Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Horses were fundamental to the strength of Chinese rulers and sacrificial horse burials had been practised since the Shang dynasty (c. 1600 – 1046 BCE). This is particularly notable at the tomb of Duke Jing of Qi (reigned 547 – 490 BCE), which contained a pit with the remains of over 600 horses. At several separate excavation sites in the vicinity of Emperor Qin Shihuang’s tomb, the remains of real horses and chariots have been discovered. However, the first emperor is significantly noted as the first to create life-sized horse replicas as an integral part of the terracotta army’s military formation. While the adjacent horse features a hole on each side to prevent cracking during firing, this example was ventilated through its detachable tail.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Tomb gate 画像石 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

 

Tomb gate
画像石
Eastern Han dynasty, 25 – 220 CE
Stone, pigments
Suide County Museum

 

 

This graphically decorated tomb gate depicts animated events and scenes of daily life typical of the Qin (221 – 207 BCE) and Han (207 BCE – 220 CE) dynasties. The lintel displays a hunting scene with men on horseback galloping at full speed – some with lances and others shooting arrows – in pursuit of wild animals. The inner left and right supports feature images of people wrestling, playing instruments, nursing children, performing acrobatics, walking with a horse, carrying goods or climbing stairs. Mythical birds, creatures and people are pictured on the rooftops and on the curling vines of the outer supports.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Mythical creatures 石兽 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

Mythical creatures 石兽 Eastern Han dynasty, 25 - 220 CE

 

Mythical creatures
石兽
Eastern Han dynasty, 25 – 220 CE
Stone
Xi’an Beilin Museum, Xi’an

 

 

Large stone beasts lined ‘spirit paths’ leading to the tombs of emperors, royals and aristocrats to protect them in the afterlife. These two magnificent Han dynasty examples stride forward with teeth displayed and powerful tails gracefully balanced behind. The female rests her front paw on a playful infant beast, representing natural harmony, and the male beast places his paw on a ball, representing his supremacy.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Female attendant 粉彩女俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Female attendant 粉彩女俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Female attendant
粉彩女俑
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an

 

 

Excavated from the Yangling tomb of the fourth Han emperor, Jing, this female attendant displays the rounded shoulders typical of a Han dynasty beauty. She wears multi-layered robes with wide sleeves and the splayed lower section fashionable among women of the time. The position of her hands, concealed in her sleeves, elegant stance and gentle expression suggest that she is waiting to attend the imperial household members.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Standing soldiers 彩绘步兵俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Standing soldiers
彩绘步兵俑
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Xianyang Museum, Xianyang

 

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Large cavalrymen 彩绘骑马俑 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Large cavalrymen
彩绘骑马俑
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware, pigments
Xianyang Museum, Xianyang

 

 

A terracotta army of more than 2400 horses with riders and standing figures was discovered in 1965 by villagers levelling land at Yangjiawan, approximately twenty-two kilometres north-east of Xi’an. Due to the large number of military objects found, the site is believed to be a satellite tomb in the burial complex of the first Han emperor, Gaozu, associated with the military generals Zhou Bo and his son Zhou Yafu. Each standing warrior carries a shield and wears a loose rove, and one has painted armour. Colour remains visible on these figures and provides a good indication of their original appearance.

Label text from the exhibition

 

Goat 陶山羊 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Goat 陶山羊 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Goat
陶山羊
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

Cow 陶牛 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Cow 陶牛 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Cow
陶牛
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

Wild male dog 陶狼犬(公) Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE; Domestic female dog 陶家犬(母) Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Wild male dog
陶狼犬(公)
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

Domestic female dog
陶家犬(母)
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

Sow 陶母猪 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Sow
陶母猪
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an

 

Group of ten soldiers 男武士俑--十人组 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

Group of ten soldiers 男武士俑--十人组 Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 9 CE

 

Group of ten soldiers
男武士俑–十人组
Western Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 9 CE
Earthenware
Han Yangling Museum, Xianyang

 

 

More than 40,000 small-scale terracotta warriors were discovered and excavated during the 1990s from pits adjacent to the Han Yangling tomb of Emperor Jing. Created seventy years after Qin Shihuang’s life-sized terracotta warriors, they served the same purpose as tomb guardians but were of a scale that could be more practically produced. The torsos, legs and heads were moulded separately then joined with moist clay before firing. Arms, made from wood, clothing, made from cloth, and armour, made from leather, have all perished during their 2000 years underground. The variety of faces produced from different moulds suggest a multicultural nation and the many regions and ethnicities present in the Han dynasty army.

Label text from the exhibition

 

Wellhead 绿釉陶井 Han dynasty, 207 BCE - 220 CE

 

Wellhead
绿釉陶井
Han dynasty, 207 BCE – 220 CE
Glazed earthenware
Xi’an Museum, Xi’an

 

 

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06
May
14

Exhibition: ‘Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth’ at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane

Exhibition dates: 23rd November 2013 – 11th May 2014

 

99 wolves a leaping
99 replicas of animals a drinking
31-metre suspended eucalyptus tree a leaning
170 tonnes of water a seeping
3,000 square metres of GOMA’s ground floor a taking
and not a partridge in a pear tree in sight…

FANTASTIC ART!

.
Many thankx to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Heritage' 2013

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957)
Heritage
2013
99 life-sized replicas of animals, water, sand, drip mechanism
Installed dimensions variable
Commissioned for the exhibition Falling Back to Earth, 2013
Purchased 2013 with funds from Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Diversity Foundation through and with the assistance of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation
Photograph: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

 

 

“Thought-provoking and spectacular new installations inspired by Queensland landscapes will premiere in the first Australian solo exhibition of leading international contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang, opening tomorrow at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth, on display from November 23 to May 11, 2014, builds on a longstanding working relationship between the artist and the Gallery, which dates back to Cai’s participation in the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art exhibitions in 1996 and 1999.

For the first time ever, all 3,000 square metres of GOMA’s ground floor will be dedicated to an exhibition of work by a single living artist. Falling Back to Earth features installations of 99 replicas of animals drinking from a pristine lake; 99 wolves leaping en masse and colliding with a glass wall; a suspended 31-metre eucalyptus tree, creating a space for contemplation; and a tea pavilion where visitors can pause, drink tea, and find out more about the artist and the exhibition. There will also be an interactive installation for children and a chronological display of the artist’s career, with photographs, ephemera, and original art works selected by the artist.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said Cai Guo-Qiang’s ground-breaking practice over 25 years used unexpected materials to create transformative event-based and social projects. “This exhibition is a significant evolution for one of today’s most compelling and highly respected global artists, realised with a level of ambition unprecedented for an Australian art museum,” Mr Saines said. “Cai is shifting his focus from the cosmos to the Earth and to humanity’s complex relationship with nature, while maintaining his keen eye on both the seen and unseen forces that impact life.”

Cai Guo-Qiang said the exhibition title Falling Back to Earth was inspired by fourth-century poet Tao Yuanming’s well-known prose poem, Ah, homeward bound I go! “The text captures the concept behind the exhibition, and expresses the idea of going home, returning to the harmonious relationship between man and nature, and re-embracing the tranquillity in the landscape,” he said.

Exhibition curator Russell Storer, Curatorial Manager of Asian and Pacific Art, QAGOMA, said the new commissions drew on the striking beauty of Queensland landscapes and the exquisite imagery in historical Chinese painting and poetry, to express concerns regarding the ecological and social issues of our time. “Heritage 2013 is an installation of 99 replicas of animals including pandas, tigers, bears, giraffes and kangaroos, lowering their heads to drink water together from a lake that is surrounded by white sand, evoking the islands of Brisbane’s Moreton Bay,” Mr Storer said. “Seemingly a peaceful gathering of predator and prey, the menagerie of Heritage conveys an almost reverential solemnity, in a lyrical utopian vision loaded with uncertainty. It embodies Cai’s image of a ‘last paradise’ and his awareness of a sense of crisis in contemporary societies across the world.”

The first single artwork to take up the entire 1,100m2 of GOMA’s largest gallery space, Heritage presents animals drinking from a lake filled with 170 tonnes of water, which is viewable from a walkway that circles the entire installation. The Gallery will acquire Heritage thanks to a generous contribution from benefactor Win Schubert, through the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Diversity Foundation with the assistance of the QAGOMA Foundation.

Eucalyptus 2013, a 31-metre tree suspended along GOMA’s central Long Gallery, came from a plantation earmarked for clearing for urban community development. The work was inspired by the ancient trees of Lamington National Park, and creates a meditative, immersive experience for visitors,” Mr Storer said. “Drawing on his history of socially provocative projects, Cai presents Eucalyptus as an unfinished work to be completed by the audience, who are invited to draw and write their ideas on the tree’s past and future. A third major installation, Head On 2006 – Cai’s signature work of 99 life-size sculptures of wolves, which was commissioned by Deutsche Bank, Berlin – is appearing in Australia for the first time.”

In the free interactive installation, Let’s Create an Exhibition with a Boy Named Cai 2013, Cai Guo-Qiang and the QAGOMA Children’s Art Centre invite children to participate, using the artist’s working methods to create their own exhibition through hands-on and multimedia activities, which include an online ‘gunpowder drawing’ making program. An illustrated storybook written by the artist and created in collaboration with the Children’s Art Centre will be available from the QAGOMA Store.

The Tea Pavilion in the River Room invites visitors to pause, rest and reflect on the works in the exhibition. Visitors can sample Tie Guan Yin tea from Cai’s home province of Fujian and watch a documentary created especially for ‘Falling Back to Earth’ to learn more about the processes behind the exhibition. A detailed chronology of Cai’s work, including early works, ephemera, photographs and artefacts selected by the artist from his private collection and the QAGOMA Research Library, will be presented in the GOMA Foyer. The display will offer insights into the artist’s history with QAGOMA and the complexity and risk involved in Cai’s work. The exhibition will be fully documented in a major publication, available in January 2014. The book will feature photography of the new works and essays from leading curators, as well as reflections from Cai Guo-Qiang on his collaboration with children throughout his career.

Cai’s recent solo exhibitions and projects have included the retrospective Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the National Art Museum of China in Beijing in 2008 and the Guggenheim Bilbao in 2009. He was Director of Visual and Special Effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and his first exhibition in the Middle East was staged in Doha, Qatar, in 2011. In 2012, the artist appeared in solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, Hangzhou and Copenhagen. His first South American exhibition toured to Brasília, São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 2013.”

Press release from the Gallery of Modern Art website

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Tea Pavilion' 2013

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957)
Tea Pavilion
2013
Spotted gum (Corymbia maculata), wooden stools, Fujian Tie Guan Yin tea and video documentary
Commissioned for the exhibition Falling Back to Earth, 2013
Photo by Yuyu Chen, courtesy Cai Studio

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Eucalyptus' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Eucalyptus' 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Eucalyptus' 2013

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957)
Eucalyptus
2013
Spotted gum (Corymbia maculata), wooden stools, paper and pencils
Length: 3150 cm (approx.)
Commissioned for the exhibition Falling Back to Earth, 2013
Photograph: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Head On' 2006

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Head On' 2006

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Head On' 2006

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957) 'Head On' 2006

 

Cai Guo-Qiang (China b. 1957)
Head On
2006
99 life-sized replicas of wolves and glass wall. Wolves: gauze, resin, and hide
Dimensions variable
Deutsche Bank Collection, commissioned by Deutsche Bank AG
Photograph: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

 

 

Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)

The Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) are located 150 metres from each other, on the south bank of the Brisbane River. Entrance to both buildings is possible from Stanley Place, and the river front entrance to the Queensland Art Gallery is on Melbourne Street. The Galleries are within easy walking distance to the city centre and South Bank Parklands.

Opening hours:
Daily 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Closed Christmas Day, Good Friday, open from 12.00 noon ANZAC Day

Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) website

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16
Jul
09

Review: Guo Jian paintings at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 30th June – 25th July 2009

 

Guo Jian. 'No.c' 2009

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
No.c
2009
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 213 cm

 

 

This exhibition of eight new paintings and one older work by Chinese artist Guo Jian presented at Arc One Gallery in Melbourne is, with the exception of one outstanding painting, a disappointment. The new work addresses, variously, themes of consumerism, stardom, sex appeal, the military and Chinese culture. Using old photographs as reference and inserting the body and face of the artist into the canvases, Jian examines the paradoxes that exist between Western/American and Chinese culture to limited effect.

Using a restricted colour palette in each painting Jian’s ‘mise en scène’ places American soldiers and babes wearing bikinis of distorted American flags with the artist as lone Chinese soldier – his face pulled into focus while the other figures almost become cut-outs with the overlay of a “blur filter” softening their features. In another set piece Untitled 3 (2009) a seductive woman with flaming red hair and half open jacket holds a bottle of Chloe perfume in her hand while behind Chinese female military dancers brandish swords and red flags. In No.g (2009) two soldiers with guns propped behind them read contrasting books – one the ‘Little Red Book’ and the other ‘A Big Naughty Girly Magazine’. Marilyn and Madonna feature heavily, pastiches in a built environment – all pink and fleshy with a silver heart (perhaps it should have been a Purple Heart).

The iconography in these staged ‘tableaux vivants’ is a one shot idea repeated in all eight paintings. The themes seem hackneyed, their language a bricolage of ironic archetypes that don’t have anything new to say about the subject matter but repeat things we know already: vis a vis that Chinese society is struggling to cope with the burden of becoming a consumer culture. On reflection, the new paintings have not impinged on my consciousness – always a sign whether the work really has made a connection. However, the single work from 2003 is a different beast.

The Training from the series The Day Before I Went Away (2003) is a hypnotic, mesmerising and powerful work, lurid even, with it’s hyper-real colours and maniacal faces, eyes rolling in the back of heads, barring of teeth, the hand over the mouth, the upraised hand, the glistening white of the blade – oh the lust for blood!

This painting is so evocative it shames the new work by comparison – you think about this work, you remember it!

Here is the passion and insightfulness of the artist. Danger and terror grab you and shake you and force you to think about the human condition. This is what I want art to do in whatever way it can – subtly, quietly, psychologically, forcefully. Great art challenges us to look, feel and think. Unfortunately the new work, while clever on a superficial level, fails to deliver.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog.

.
Many thankx to the Arc One Gallery for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting.

 

Guo Jian. 'No.d' 2009

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
No.d
2009
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 213 cm

 

 

“This series is about looking at the persuasion or morale boosting efforts for soldiers from another perspective. I considered how starlets and celebrities are deployed in the West – often not dissimilarly to the way Chinese Entertainment Soldiers are used to influence and motivate in my part of the world.” ~ Guo Jian

 

Guo Jian. 'No.f' 2009

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
No.f
2009
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 213 cm

 

Guo Jian. 'No.g' 2009

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
No.g
2009
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 213 cm

 

Guo Jian. 'Untitled 3' 2009

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
Untitled 3
2009
Acrylic on canvas
152 x 213 cm

 

 

Born in China in 1963, Jian was raised in a controlled political environment. He served over three years in the Peoples Liberation Army and bore witness to the horrific Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, where he assisted carrying the wounded to the hospital.

Jian’s personal atlas of history continues to feed his visual commentary. His voice is both satirical and erotic, challenging and confronting. He plays with irony and foreplay to exploit and raise potent questions surrounding propaganda and manipulation.

“As I have grown older, I have realised that all of the education I have received is rarely practical in real life. Reality and education are conflicting. The way in which you inherently view the world is influenced by education which is the perspectives of others. Our surrounding environment defines our perception of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘enemy’ and ‘friend’, ‘them’ and ‘us’. But, if you dare to open your eyes and liberate your mind, you will find that the world is not exactly the way you have been told. Put your feet into someone else’s shoes to think about the world and your own life differently. For me, if the surroundings change, are combined, are old or new, it doesn’t matter. My life is defined relative to my self-experience and the things I have heard or seen. From this perspective, I have discovered the freedom to reopen my eyes to a new world and to new possibilities.”

Guo Jian

Text from the press release on the Arc One Gallery website [Online] Cited 10/07/2009

 

Guo Jian. 'The Training' from the series 'Te Day Before I Went Away' 2003

 

Guo Jian (Chinese Australian, b. 1962)
The Training from the series The Day Before I Went Away
2003

 

 

Arc One Gallery
45 Flindes Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 11 – 5pm

Arc One Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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