Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

Shawinigan Space to host spectacular exhibition in 2006

Ottawa - November 29, 2005

Summer will start with a bang when the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) presents a dramatic solo exhibition of works by internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang [saï goki-ang] in Shawinigan, Quebec. Cai Guo-Qiang: Long Scroll, on display from 10 June to 1 October 2006 at Shawinigan Space, will include three expansive installations as well as a large projection, multi-panel gunpowder drawings and other works. Cai is known for his ambitious explosion works and large, theatrical sculptures and installations.

Cai Guo-Qiang, Inopportune: Stage One, 2004. Collection of the artist © Cai Guo-Qiang

Some of the works in the Shawinigan show were first presented in the exhibition Inopportune at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in 2005. Organized by the NGC, Cai Guo-Qiang: Long Scroll will be curated by NGC Director Pierre Théberge in collaboration with Mayo Graham and Jonathan Shaughnessy.

The centrepiece of the Shawinigan Space show is Inopportune: Stage One (2004), an extraordinary work that features a dazzling array of coloured lights pulsing from hundreds of long, transparent rods. These rods thrust out from nine identical white cars that tumble in an arc through the air, suspended as if by stop-motion animation. The cars give the impression of an explosion unfolding in nine frames. At the end of the sequence the car lands safely, unaltered, implying a closed and repeatable circuit.

In a second installation, titled Inopportune: Stage Two (2004), nine realistic tigers crouch, pounce and leap through the air. Hundreds of arrows pierce the tigers, appearing to lift them skyward, in Cai’s investigation into heroism and bravery.

“Cai’s spectacular, psychologically charged works celebrate movement, time and space,” says Pierre Théberge, Director of the NGC. “Because it is devoted to just one, internationally renowned artist, Cai Guo-Qiang: Long Scroll represents an exciting innovation for the National Gallery’s summer exhibition program at Shawinigan Space.”

The New York-based artist’s work was featured in the National Gallery of Canada group exhibition Crossings in 1998.

Explosions have been a central part of Cai’s creative practice since the mid-1980s, when he left China to live in Japan. One of his best-known explosion project was Transient Rainbow, commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York soon after September 11, 2001, in which exploding fireworks arced over the East River from Manhattan to Queens. His goal was to refigure the meaning of an explosion in Manhattan, to show that “something used for destruction and terror can also be constructive, beautiful, and healing.”

Cai, who was born in 1957 in Quanzhou City in China’s Fujian Province, won one of the most important prizes in contemporary art, the Golden Lion of the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999. The artist’s recent major projects include Ye Gong Hao Long, Explosion Project for Tate Museum in 2003; Cai Guo-Qiang: Traveler, a two-part exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. in 2004; and Light Cycle: Explosion Project for Central Park in 2003. Cai also curated the inaugural China Pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale.

Shawinigan Space is part of the Cité de l’Énergie complex and is an exhibition venue of the National Gallery of Canada.

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