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Palace Museum’s explosive new exhibition shows beauty of Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games

作者:admin 2020-12-17

Palace Museum’s explosive new exhibition shows beauty of Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Photo taken with a mobile phone shows a view in the Palace Museum in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 1, 2020. The year 2020 marks the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City. The Palace Museum was built on the base of the former imperial compound in 1925. (Xinhua/Meng Chenguang)

 Exhibition Odyssey and Homecoming, which explores the Forbidden City and the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, kicked off at the Palace Museum on Monday. A total of 180 artworks by artist Cai Guoqiang are on display to show off traditional Chinese culture and promote the Winter Olympic Games.

While many Chinese artists use paint or ink for their works, Cai stands apart as he has been using gunpowder to create his works of art for nearly 35 years. This explosive material, invented in China more than 1,000 years ago, has laid the foundation for Cai's work. Its often unpredictable nature dictates his artistic process and determines the outcome of his work, according to the exhibition's introduction. 

His works are usually made using gunpowder mixed with various coloring that is spread on canvas or glass and then ignited. This results in smoky seared imprints on the canvas that come together to form his colorful works. 

Many people are already familiar with Cai's works even though they may not know it. 

Cai served as the chief visual effects art designer for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, which meant he was mainly responsible for the many colorful fireworks that were used during the ceremonies. His love for Olympic Games can be seen in his painting Yinhebingxi, which can be translated as "galactic ice play."

The painting is a gunpowder work Cai created to echo the theme of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. It was also inspired by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) painting Frolic on the Ice, a painting in the Palace Museum collection which depicts people playing a game on a frozen lake. Cai's 9.15-meter-long and 2.05-meter-high work shows the profound scene of people skating across the vast galaxy. 

This artwork marked the first time that Cai ignited gunpowder on such a large-scale glass and mirror surface. The blasted scars on the mirror surface smokes out to create vast romantic images of ice and snow, forming a surprise creation.

"After enjoying the exhibition, I feel that there is an invisible tension throughout Cai's artworks. I think this is his expression of Chinese culture after accepting some ideas from Western countries," Rui Xuan, a 34-year-old woman living in East China's Shanghai Municipality, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Tong Xingsheng, an architect based in Beijing, told the Global Times that he came to the museum just to see Cai's exhibition. He noted that he was happy to see how Chinese artworks have kept moving forward in the new area after incorporating international art theories. 

The year 2020 marks the 600th anniversary of the completion of the Forbidden City, in which the Palace Museum is housed. One part of the exhibition makes use of VR technology to allow visitors to virtually appreciate a bright fireworks performance over the Forbidden City.

Cai used white marble, an important material in the construction of the Forbidden City, and invited craftsmen in his hometown of Quanzhou in East China's Fujiang Province to create a complete model of the Forbidden City. He transported the white jade palace to Liuyang, the hometown of fireworks, in Central China's Hunan Province and held a small fireworks show above the model. 

By donning VR glasses, visitors can enjoy this 6-minute-long fireworks display from beginning to end, one employee at the museum told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"Real fireworks cannot be set off in the Forbidden City due to its wooden structure, but artists can use this method to imagine a grand ceremony taking place when the Forbidden City was completed 600 years ago," Cai told the Beijing News in an interview. 

The exhibition at the Meridian Hall of the Palace Museum is scheduled to end on February 5, 2021. Entrance to the exhibition is by appointment only, divided into morning and afternoon sessions (3,000 people in the morning and 2,000 people in the afternoon). Tourists can make real-name reservations through the Palace Museum's online ticketing website. 


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