Cai Guo-Qiang /China/United States b.1957 / Heritage 2013 / 99 life-sized replicas of animals: polystyrene, gauze, resin and hide / Commissioned 2013 with funds from the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Diversity Foundation through and with the assistance of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

Cai Guo-Qiang
Heritage 2013

Not Currently on Display

Heritage 2013 creates a seemingly utopian situation based on tolerance and trust, where all types of animals have come together to share a common space. It features 99 life-sized artificial animals, diverse in nature, appearing to drink from a large pool of water that is surrounded by pristine white sand.

The work symbolises Cai Guo-Qiang’s perception of Queensland as a paradise on earth, where unspoiled ancient landscapes can still be found and cultural diversity is promoted. Heritage presents a message of hope through a romantic vision or idealisation.

However, the work can also be seen as conveying a sense of hopelessness, portraying animals that may have lost their instincts and who must rely on this pool of water to survive.

The inspiration for Heritage came partly from the artist’s immersion in the Australian landscape: Cai visited North Stradbroke Island, and while he was there he met with members of the Quandamooka community, who are its traditional owners.

Chinese born, New York based artist Cai Guo-Qiang (pronounced tsai gwo-chang) is well-known as a remarkable and inventive figure on the contemporary international art scene. Having grown up in China during the Cultural Revolution, Cai was introduced to art and literature by his father.

Since the early 1990s, the artist has become known internationally for large-scale events that involve fireworks and gunpowder, as well as ambitious and complex installations in museums around the world.

Throughout his career, Cai has made art that reflects his concern for humanity, and his works have appeared in major galleries around the world. Cai Guo-Qiang has a long history of engagement with the Queensland Art Gallery, having exhibited commissioned works in two Asia Pacific Triennials of Contemporary Art (APT), in 1996 and 1999.

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