In 2016, for the exhibition The Great Animal Orchestra, Cai Guo-Qiang created the immense fresco White Tone, which recalls the rock art adorning cave walls. “This is one of the most detailed drawings I have ever created. Animals are like humans in the sense that they have so many expressions and forms, muscles, bones, fur, etc. You have to go very much into detail when you apply the gunpowder to represent the movement of the animal bending down to the water. And the gunpowder drawing itself remains a very fragile technique, due to the ignition process. I imagined this place being the sole remaining vestige of nature on earth, the final legacy for animals. So they no longer fight against each other but they are modestly bending down to drink the last sip of water. Like in a fairy-tale world, the depicted scene is a beautiful and moving vision, but at the same time it conceals a dark emotion. The pond is still and quiet: it is a vortex, a white void swallowing all its surroundings, creating a silent nothingness, an image from which all sound has disappeared or is about to.”


  • Title: White Tone
  • Creator: Cai Guo-Qiang
  • Date Created: 2016
  • Physical Dimensions: 400 x 1 800 cm
  • Provenance: Acquisition 2017
  • Rights: © Cai Guo-Qiang
  • Medium: Gunpowder on paper

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