10 Foot By 162 Foot Gunpowder Piece To Hang In New China Wing At Houston Museum Of Arts
Chinese art is about to hit Texas in a big way, as Cai Guo-Qiang, one of China’s top contemporary artists, will follow up his recent exhibition “Peasant da Vincis” with a massive gunpowder painting commissioned by the new Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Arts of China Gallery at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH). Entitled “Odyssey,” the mammoth, 10-by-162-foot work (made up of 42 panels) will be executed on October 5 and 6 in preparation for the China gallery’s grand opening on October 17.
As MFAH Director Peter C. Marzio told the Houston Chronicle this week, he and Cai “did the deal in about five minutes” after Cai attended a dinner for museum donors in the China gallery’s raw space and Marzio suggested the commission. From the Chronicle:
“He does these beautiful paintings with gunpowder, and at first glance, they look like ancient ink work or pencil work, and then you look at them closer and they’re obviously something very different,” Marzio said. “I said, ‘This may sound crazy, but if we could get a drawing that went all the way around the walls so that the gallery was like this 21st-century crucible, and then inside it went the ancient work, I think that would create a really interesting dialogue.’ And he just jumped at it. He said that’s never been done before.”
As the Chronicle points out, tickets to attend the creation of Cai’s “Odyssey” are free, but space is limited. Online registration for tickets will begin on September 20 on the MFAH website.
The commission is part of the MFAH’s “Portals Project,” which the museum envisions as including commissions from four contemporary artists to provide “a contemporary perspective onto the collections of Korean, Indian, Chinese and Japanese art that have been developed for this new suite of galleries over the past three years.” Following Cai’s commission this October, the Korean artist Do-Ho Suh will create his piece for the MFAH’s Arts of Korea gallery in January 2011.