Mathaf ends season with Cai’s ‘Saraab’
DOHA CAI GUO-QIANG’S brilliant exhibition ‘Saraab’ came to an end on Saturday at Mathaf, the Arab Museum of Modern Art, with a well-attended closing celebration which also marked the museum’s closing for the summer season.
The highlight of the day was a conversation Qatari artist and writer Abdulwahed al Mawlawi had with the ‘great artist’ Cai.
“I’m interested in building a bridge between the visible and invisible worlds, always trying to pursue the unchanging way of the universe.
I’m inspired by the volunteers I work with during the creative process.
There is a constant dialogue with these local participants, and the nature and landscape of the place where I’m working, all of which affect the outcome of the work”, Cai said, responding to a question about his creative process.
Discussing Saraab in particular, Cai said, “I rarely come to the last day of my exhibition though I always come to the opening. I hope that the project in Qatar is the first of many future ones in the Middle East.” He also noted that in learning to write the Arabic word for ‘fragile’ in one of the exhibition’s commissioned works, also entitled ‘Fragile’, he got an insight into the Arabic culture, particularly the language, through the motions involved in the act of writing.
The artist added that the notion of transience, of constant change, was an important one for him and went some way toward explaining his explosion events and gunpowder drawings. The very title of the exhibition is an Arabic word which means ‘Mirage’.
Guided tours of Saraab, a book signing of exhibition catalogues by the artist, and an exceptional performance by the Marasi Ensemble, a group comprised of teachers from Qatar Music Academy performing classical Arabic music on traditional instruments, were the other events of the day.
Born in China, Cai currently lives in New York and had last been in Qatar for the opening of Saraab in December with the awardwinning ‘Black Ceremony’, an art event that used gunpowder and fireworks to depict fleeting, large-scale installations in the sky.
Last month he created another explosion event in New York, and opened his current exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles with yet another explosion event. He is planning future projects in Denmark, Brazil and Australia.