MFAH Commissions Beijing Olympics F/X Mastermind for New Artwork

The Museum of fine Arts, Houston announced this morning that it has commissioned a permanent, site-specific work by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Cai is world-known for grand-scale works and major installations--he was the director of visual and special effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics--a pretty substantial pedigree. Cai is also known for giant "gunpowder drawings," in which different types and colors of gunpowder are ignited against a surface, creating ethereal and smoky images.

In Houston, Cai will create a new gunpowder drawing spanning 42 10-foot panels, 162 feet long in total length. The piece will be made in a 25,000 square-foot warehouse near Reliant Stadium. Calls for volunteers will be made through local university art programs. The work will be installed in the Arts of China gallery at the MFAH's Caroline Weiss Law building prior to opening day on October 17.

The impressive commission is part of the MFAH's "Portals Project," a series of commissions that offer a contemporary perspective onto the collections of Korean, Indian, Chinese and Japanese art. The project was developed for a suite of galleries over the past three years. "A big component of these galleries is that they mix modern and contemporary art with ancient art," says MFAH publicist Dana Mattice. "The drawing will become the walls in the Arts of China gallery, permanently there. Inside of that gallery will be ancient artworks, and it'll be a really cool juxtaposition. We're really excited about this."

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