Art 1301. 5008
Upon walking into the Museum of Fine Arts Houston I found myself standing in a room filled with unique and outstanding master pieces. While entering the Arts of Asia Gallery, a video that was playing on the wall caught my eye. It showed the actual process that artist Cai Guo- Qiang used while working on his largest drawing, Odyssey (2010). Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China. He is a contemporary artist who has most recently started using gun powder in his painting to confront the controlled artistic tradition and social climate in China. In 1999 Cai was awarded the golden lion at the 48th venice biennale, the 7th Hiroshima Art Prize in 2007, and the 20th fukioka Asian Culture Prize in 2009. Like in many of his paintings, he used gun powder to create a smoky look on a paper that was laying over 42 wood panel screens. What made it more unique was the fact that Qiang used fireworks to give Odyssey an Antique old look to it. It was amazing but I had no idea the actual piece was only a few steps away from me in the next room. Odyssey was an installation that covered the entire room, it was breath taking. The unique technique that Cai used and the amount of darkness and lightness that was presented, is what inspired me to use Odyssey for my critique paper. Using the principles and elements of design I will evaluate the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Choa exhibit, Odyssey.
Odyssey contains a subject matter of different flowers such as Peonies and Lotus. Peonies symbolizes a happy life or a happy marriage. As for Lotus, they are famous for being associated with purity and meaning beauty in Buddhism, the most common religion in Asia. The flowers are laid at the eye level of the viewers, and over the horizon you can see high, big mountains. Like many ancient Chinese drawings, Odyssey creates a free-spiritual feeling except with a modern twist to it. Many other things done today for example the television. In past times a television was a big box with antennas on it, but as times passed Tv’s became more modern and eventually we had what we call now a“flat screen Tv”. In my opinion the content in Odyssey is the same, to create the same peaceful and calming feeling as Ancient Chinese art pieces, only Qiang decided to translate his piece from ancient to a more modern look without losing the significance of his roots. He brought in the gun powder technique and used installation as a new way for China to modernize.
In the painting Odyssey the line work is done according the area they are located. The flowers are simple yet have a lot of beauty in them, so the lines that are presented in these areas were thin and were not continuous the entire time. Almost as if they were flowing through the drawing. For the darker areas of the painting such as the mountains and most of the leaves and grass, the lines were much darker and thicker creating that dramatic change in the painting. In the more shaded part of the mountains the lines became much darker, but although the areas were dark the viewer could still tell where the shape of the mountain was thanks to those thick and heavy lines. In a dandelion located in the right side of the room the stem is very dark as well as the flower its self, but by adding the detail of white to where the flower actually start it blends it in with the rest of the objects and doesn’t give it a dark gothic look.
The positive space used between the flowers and the mountains allows the painting to have depth. One way to distinguish this is by the overlapping and the size of the flowers and mountains. When the overlapping occurs, the flowers, leaves and rocks are what the viewers see first. Then, the eye moves towards the mountains which stand above the horizon in the background. Because the flowers block the immediate view of the mountain, and the size of the mountains are much smaller than what they