In a dual presentation of Chinese art and culture past and present, the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series at the National Gallery of Victoria presents China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors alongside a display of new works by one of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang.
Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality is a large-scale presentation of the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Warriors, which, discovered in 1974 in China’s Shaanxi province, are regarded as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the twentieth century and widely described as the eighth wonder of the world. This presentation features more than 150 exquisite treasures of historic Chinese art and design. From the Qin dynasty (221 – 207 BCE), the exhibition presents eight terracotta warriors alongside two full-sized horses and two replica bronze chariots. Objects lent by leading museums and archaeological sites from across the Shaanxi province include priceless gold, jade and bronze artefacts dating from the Zhou dynasty (1050 – 256 BCE) through to the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE)
Presented in parallel, Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape, sees contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang, create all new art works inspired by his home country’s culture and its enduring philosophical traditions, including a monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds. Spiralling over visitors’ heads, the birds create a three-dimensional impression of a calligraphic drawing of the sacred Mount Li, the site of the ancient tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, and his warriors. Cai has collaborated on the exhibition’s design, creating breathtaking immersive environments for the presentation of both his work and the Terracotta Warriors.