Gunpowder Art in Oxford

The Ashmolean, Is the oldest museum in the world, as we keep reminding ourselves, but at the same time putting on some great cutting edge free exhibitions from time to time. The current example is a terrific display of gunpowder art – yes gunpowder art.

Gunpowder, explosions, Oxford, Chinese Fireworks, el greco
Cai Guo-Qiang, In Search of El Greco, No. 8, 2016, gunpowder on canvas, 91.5cm x 91.5cm, Private Collection, Hong Kong.

Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang (b. 1957) is known for his public pyrotechnics and fireworks including the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and a grear open air display at Pompeii

Detonations on canvas, he is less well renowned for but currently in the Ashmolean are a series of large works reporting the aftermath of exploding gunpowder on canvas. I went at a time some primary school children were there hiding their disappointment that there were no exploding paintings – oh well!

Gunpowder, Oxford, chines rireworks, poppies, ashmolean
Cai Guo-Qiang, Poppy Series: Hallucination No.1 2015, gunpowder on canvas, 4 panels, 183cm x 608cm, Private Collection, Hong Kong,

Burnt coloured residues leaving their mark on plain canvasses seemed to me a great new media and very Chinese, if I may say. This great little one room show is at Oxford until 19th April and well worth it, and if you are scared or intimidated by this great Museum it is just inside the main door – so quite safe.

The exhibition is at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 19th April

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