One of the most anticipated exhibitions of late is Cai Guo-Qiang’s ‘Falling back to Earth’, presented at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane, Australia. Cai Guo-Qiang is a global artist whose dramatic installations have made him one of the most innovative figures in contemporary art, as evidently shown by the central piece of the exhibition, ‘Heritage 2013’.
‘Heritage 2013’ features 99 replicas of animals from around the world, all gathered together to drink from a limpid lake, surrounded by a beach of white sand. The installation draws on themes such as nature and its sometimes contrasting surrounding, especially when put in the modern world. This wild mirage-like installation came to Cai Guo-Qiang after his visit to Brown Lake (Bummeria) on North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), where the calm and tranquil environment seemed far from the conflicts of the outside world. Further expanding his ideal of Queensland as a ‘last paradise’, Cai has created a gigantic tableau of animal replicas, standing side by side amidst their differences. However, the work has a second layer of power in its almost utopian beauty: the lyrical vision is that of superficiality and simple, minimalistic modern construction. The installation room is vast and there is almost a tension between the frozen moment of the animals peacefully in the act of drinking and the incessant, frequent drip of water continually disrupting the lake’s surface and the silence of the room. Almost a vision of Eden, the audience is frozen in time when immersed with these spectacular and beautiful still animals, thus creating a deeply meditative atmosphere.
Over the past 25 years, Cai Guo-Qiang has held exhibitions at some of the world’s most prestigious art institutions, including the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. He curated the first China Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 and has also shown projects and exhibitions in Qater, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Rio de Janeiro and Venice, but ‘Falling back to Earth’ will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in Australia.