Thursday 6 February 2014

Falling Back to Earth

Recently I spent a very pleasant day at GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) not least because the air conditioning was a welcome escape from Brisbane's searing heat. I began my day in QAG where I was able to see a work by Cai Guo-Qiang from the permanent collection - a gunpowder drawing. A video of this work shows the process and it's worth watching right through as work is created in an explosive fashion.

My aim for the day was to see "Falling Back to Earth" Cai Guo-Qiang's first solo exhibition in Australia. The exhibition focuses on humanity's relationship with nature, which was inspired by the unique landscapes of Queensland... there is more about the exhibition in the booklet that accompanies the show.

There are four installations. As you enter the Long Gallery, Eucalyptus 2013 extends the length of the space. There’s a giant Eucalyptus, lying on its side - the huge root ball faces the entrance with the trunk and branches soaring high. It's so big I battled to get a photo of the complete tree. I have become slightly obsessed with trees lately so I felt quite at home here.

Eucalyptus 2013 Cai Guo-qiang

The Tea Pavilion 2013 provides a quiet space to sip tea and think. I enjoyed the reflections of the trees in the glass on the side of a stairway. Rounds of felled trees provided both seating and tables on which one could draw with the paper and pencils provided. My attention was drawn to the centre of one table which showed in the inner secrets of this tree. ( Drawing of this to follow)

View from the Tea Pavilion

Heritage 2013 is in the first gallery. Coming as I do from a country with many game reserves, this waterhole was both familiar yet transformed. The entire gallery floor has been raised some 50 cm to accommodate a pristine expanse of water stretching almost the entire gallery space. Beach sand surrounds the water and ranged around the edges are 99 replicas of animals from around the world, all bent down drinking. 

Some animals are in unusual proximity to others that would be prey in normal circumstances. Other animals are larger than life size, and others quite small - the elephant, for instance, is quite small in relation to others.

A single drip breaks the surface - ripples disturb the water - you wonder - did I imagine that drip?

Head On 2006
This installation is confrontational - 99 wolves hurl themselves into the air in an amazing arc only to hit a glass wall as they come back to earth, falling on top of one another in an ungainly heap. More wolves range the area around those leaping, baring their fangs, howling, menacing...

The installation was made all the more surreal as visitors could wander in between the wolves, many posing for the inevitable photographs. Trying to get a shot of the wolves sans people proved to be a challenge.

It's really worth making time to visit the galleries for this exhibition. To read more about the show here is a link to the Gallery's website.

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