“Unmanned Nature” at the Whitworth


This amazing installation is currently on display in the new Landscape gallery in the Whitworth Gallery, part of the new extension.


It’s by the Chinese born artist Cai Guo-Qiang who now lives in New York. He uses gunpowder to create his drawings. The Whitworth website provides an explanation

After laying out large sheets of paper on the floor, Cai Guo-Qiang arranges gunpowder, fuses and cardboard stencils to create forms on the paper’s surface. The spontaneity of the resulting explosion, flames and fumes are controlled through the use of wooden boards, rocks and various other materials, which influence the impact of the explosions that create the final work.


In this work a large scale drawing is fixed to the walls surrounding a pool of water that occupies most of the floor area of the gallery – visitors have to be careful not to fall in as they walk around and the numbers entering at any one time is restricted! The drawing, inspired by 14th-century Chinese ink and wash paintings, is reflected in the water.


Some reviews I’ve read compare the work to Monet’s water lilies and I have to say he installation reminded me of the display of Nymphéas displayed in two specially built galleries at the Orangerie in Paris.