15 January 2014

What’s On at GOMA: Cai Guo-Qiang Falling Back to Earth, Kathy Temin’s White Forest and Everyday Magic

Images: Jonathan Rae
Words: Saskia Edwards

Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art, GOMA, is arguably the epicentre of contemporary art in the state. It’s brought Brisbane – a city sometimes compared to yoghurt in terms of culture – the likes of Andy Warhol, Matisse and Rene Magritte.

Right now, the ground level of GOMA is largely consumed by Cai Guo-Qiang’s Falling Back to Earth exhibition. If you have any form of social media you’ve probably already been bombarded by this visual masterpiece. But beyond its superficial beauty, the instillations reveal poignant existential insights. I know I’m running the risk of sounding like a didactic panel with hip-art-buzz words (ephemeral, relationship, confluence). But really the symbolism of Guo-Qiang’s work is very perceptive. The disturbed tranquillity of the animal kingdom sharing a drinking pool represents humanity’s relationship with nature. And 99 wolves circularly running into a glass wall shows the concept of the continual repetition of mistakes.

As you ascend you’ll find Everyday Magic. It’s a celebration of ordinary, pedestrian and often overlooked everyday existence. Real American Beauty plastic bag stuff. The exhibition is a compilation of artworks that explore the topic of average life’s charm – like the delicate drawings of spider’s webs, the mesmerising flirtation of flowing gold streamers and the evil messages within urban sprawl.

Kathy Temin’s White Forest has been around for a while, but the mystical adventure within the fluffy jungle never wears off. This was the first work Kathy completed after returning from a tour of holocaust sites in Poland. Instead of carrying macabre memories, the piece expresses optimism. Much like the trees can be made into a fantastical dreamland, we can too transform our world. We have the capacity for growth, hope and renewal.

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