El espíritu de la pintura, by Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang. Photo ©Javier Molina

 

 

 

The Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang is an internationally recognised character, among other things because of his admiration for the classic Spanish masters. He has inspired himself several times by Goya’s work for his proposals, and his devotion to El Greco led him to reproduce a part of his vital path, passing through Crete, Venice, Madrid and Toledo, with the wish of soaking up of an experience that allowed him to know the artist better and capture these life lessons on his work.

 

 

 

Cai Guo-Qiang, Last Carnival, 2017. Photo by Yvonne Zhao, courtesy Cai Studio.

 

 

 

Guo-Qiang is known as the artist of the gunpowder. His artworks enclose all the strength of the free impulse, the gesture into the air and the intention of feelings. Not for nothing, this artist is also a pyrotechnic worker, and he has known how to incorporate the ignition powder in his creations. The result remembers many times the fireworks exploding up in the air but represented on a canvas.

 

 

 

Cai Guo-Qiang, Mountain in Heat, 2016. Photo by Yvonne Zhao, courtesy Cai Studio.

 

 

For this exhibition, Guo-Qiang enclosed himself for the months of September and October inside the Salón de Reinos of the museum to turn it into a temporary studio. The result of this intense work will open to the public on the 25th. The key piece of the showing is a monumental artwork that the artist will complete live, entitled “El espíritu de la pintura”. This exhibition suggests a dialogue with some of the masters now kept on the Prado, like Tiziano, Velázquez, Rubens, Goya or El Greco, with which the artist attempts to strengthen links between the East and the West regarding their ways of understanding art.

 

 

 

Making-of of the documentary “El espíritu de la pintura”, directed by Isabel Coixet.

 

 

Along with the showing, we count on a full-length film-documentary directed by Isabel Coixet regarding the artist and his work. The film, produced by the museum, was shot during the months when Guo-Qiang was working in the Sala de los Reinos. A reduced version of the documentary will be projected while the exhibition is ongoing. To Coixet, it has been the right opportunity to know more in detail the creative processes of this spiritual artist and to gather these impressions on a film that makes accessible to the public the fascination that Guo-Qiang awakes.

 

The CEART opens this Thursday, November 14th in the room A an exhibition dedicated to this master of photography, which will be open to the public until February 9th. The show includes one of the artist's latest projects, focused on the hard work carried out by the miners of Serra Pelada, an open gold mine in the heart of Brazil where employees daily risked their lives.

Immigration, poverty, marginal life, slave labour, man's relationship with the land, the use of natural resources... are issues that have always fascinated Salgado. From the beginning of his career as a photographer, his work has opted to give visibility to the most disadvantaged groups and to create with his images a vivid and impressive visual story without fakes. With a raw black and white, this author's work transits between photo-reportage and naturalistic photography.

And the idea that permeates all his work is human dignity. Salgado portrays employees, miners and gatherers from a purely humanistic approach that wants to value their integrity, their strength and their resilience.

“If you photograph a human, so that he is not represented in a noble way, there is no reason to take the picture. That is my way of seeing things.”

Salgado entered this discipline long after completing his studies in economics between Brazil and the United States, and a doctorate in statistics in France. But in 1973 his life took a turn, and he decided to start his career as a photographer. He achieved to work at the Gamma Agency and Magnum Photos for more than 15 years until in 1994 he founded his own agency “Amazonas Imagen”.

With the “Gold” project, the photographer portrays a harsh reality that takes place in the Serra Pelada mine, a name given to a totally devastated and anarchically excavated mining enclave, the world's largest open-pit gold mine, through which more than 50,000 people have passed. In the heat of the legends about the mysterious “El Dorado”, the enthusiasm for this precious metal led to the development of strenuous exploitation practices for the workers and to originate tales of grief and glory, of human victory and defeat between the soil, the tunnels and the cargo baskets.

The CEART exhibition brings together Salgado's full portfolio in his characteristical black and white and large-format photographs that leave no one indifferent.