Who is Cai Guo-Qiang?


The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) presents ‘Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth’, a major exhibition by one of the world’s most significant contemporary artists, from 23 November 2013 to 11 May 2014.

For his first solo exhibition in Australia, Cai Guo-Qiang shifts his focus away from the cosmos and back to the Earth we inhabit, while maintaining his ongoing interest in the transformative forces that impact on and flow out of human life: science and faith, beauty and violence, history and current events. At the centre of the exhibition is the theme of humanity’s relationship with nature, inspired by the unique landscapes of Queensland and Chinese literati painting and poetry.

Cai Guo-Qiang ‘Heritage’ 2013

Cai Guo-Qiang, China b.1957 / Heritage (installation view) 2013 / 99 life-sized replicas of animals. Animals: polystyrene, gauze, resin and hide. Installed with artificial watering hole: water, sand, drip mechanism / Purchased 2013 with funds from the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Diversity Foundation through and with the assistance of the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Cai Guo-Qiang / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA
Installation view Heritage 2013, ‘Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth’, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane / © Cai Guo-Qiang / Photograph: © Jon Linkins

‘Falling Back to Earth’ premieres two spectacular new commissions. Heritage 2013, acquired for the Gallery’s renowned collection of contemporary Asian art, is an installation of 99 life-like replicas of animals from around the world, drinking together from a pristine lake that evokes the sand islands of Brisbane’s Moreton Bay. Eucalyptus 2013 comprises an enormous gum tree that extends along GOMAs central Long Gallery, in response to Cai’s encounter with the ancient Antarctic beeches of Lamington National Park in southeast Queensland.

Cai Guo-Qiang ‘Eucalyptus’ 2013

Installation view Eucalyptus 2013, ‘Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth’, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane / © Cai Guo-Qiang / Photograph: K Bennett © QAGOMA

RELATED: Cai Guo-Qiang’s ‘Heritage’

One of Cai’s signature works, Head On 2006, is also included in the exhibition, showing in Australia for the first time.

Cai has previously exhibited in two of the Queensland Art Gallery’s Asia Pacific Triennial exhibitions, in 1996 (APT2) and 1999 (APT3). He was the first contemporary artist commissioned by the Gallery to produce an interactive artwork for children, as part of the inaugural Kids’ APT in 1999.

‘Falling Back to Earth’ includes an interactive exhibition and illustrated book for children, developed together with Cai, along with Tea Pavilion, a contemplative space designed by the artist, with furniture and other elements made from a reclaimed eucalyptus tree. The space will feature regular Chinese tea ceremonies along with video that will provide context for the exhibition.

Featured image: Portrait of Cai Guo-Qiang