A Cai Guo-Qiang Gunpowder Drawing at the Huntington

Cai Guo-Qiang, Landscape Impressions, 2008. Collection of Jeffrey Deitch

Jeffrey Deitch has lent a large Cai Guo-Qiang gunpowder drawing, Landscape Impressions, to the Huntington's Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. It is a landscape in powder burns on paper, recording the result of detonating fireworks just this side of the picture plane. For Cai the pyrotechnics are a metaphor for the spontaneity prized by traditional Chinese ink painters. 

At the Huntington, Landscape Impressions is juxtaposed with two other examples of artistic spontaneity. Sam Francis' Free Floating Clouds is a descendent of American action painting. Robert Rauschenberg's Global Loft (Spread) draws on the stochastic insurgency of John Cage and Fluxus that helped supplant Abstract Expressionism. Yet both AbEx and Cage revered Zen (Chan) painting as precedents.

Francis' connections to Asian art and philosophy will be the subject of an upcoming LACMA show.

Installation view with Robert Rauschenberg's Global Loft (Spread), 1979, and Sam Francis' Free Floating Clouds, 1980