Caii Guo, 'Qiang Mountain in Heat', 2016 © Cai Guo - Qiang (Photo by Yvonne Zhao, courtesy Cai Studio)

Unveiling its Melbourne Winter Masterpiece exhibition, Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality |Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape, is a dual presentation of the terracotta warriors and features one of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists Cai Guo-Qiang, opening today from the 24 May – 13 October 2019 at NGV International.

Exclusive to Melbourne and presenting nearly 170 works, the exhibition offers a new perspective on Chinese culture, past and present and has eight life-size Terracotta Warriors. It also includes a monumental new works by Cai Guo-Qiang including, Murmuration (Landscape) 2019, an epic installation of more than 10,000 porcelain birds suspended from the ceiling.

Armoured military officers, and Kneeling archer, Qin dynasty 221–207 BCE, earthenware, Emperor Qin Shihuang’s MausoleumSite Museum, Xi’an.

Developed and curated by the NGV, Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality is a large-scale presentation of the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Warriors, which, discovered in 1974 in China’s Shaanxi province, are regarded as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the twentieth century and widely described as the eighth wonder of the world. The exhibition features eight warrior figures and two life-size horses from the Imperial Army, as well as two half-size replica bronze chariots, each drawn by four horses.

These sculptures are contextualised by an unprecedented Australian presentation of more than 160 exquisite ancient treasures of Chinese historic art and design, drawn by the NGV from leading museums and archaeological sites from across Shaanxi province. These include priceless gold, jade and bronze artefacts that date from the Western Zhou through to the Han dynasties (1046 BC – 220AD).

Works by Cai Guo-Qian, Day and Night in Toledo (2017), Odyssey (2010), Sunshine and Solitude: Lassoing Horses (2010), Mountain in Heat (2016), © Cai Guo-QiangPhoto by Yvonne Zhao, courtesy Cai Studio.

Illuminating more than a millennium of Chinese history, the exhibition showcases the magnificence and authority of the once-entombed figures and reveals, through the intricate display of accompanying objects and artefacts, the sophistication that characterised the formative years of Chinese civilisation.

Presented in parallel, Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape features all new art works by international contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang inspired by his home country’s culture and its enduring philosophical traditions. Created especially for this exhibition, highlight works include the monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds, Murmuration (Landscape), 2019. Spiralling over visitors’ heads, the birds create a three-dimensional impression of a calligraphic drawing of the sacred Mount Li, the site of the ancient tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, and his warriors.

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality | Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape by NGV

‘Thirty-six years ago, in 1982, the National Gallery of Victoria presented the first international exhibition of China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors only several years after their discovery. History will be made again in 2019, when the Qin Emperor’s Terracotta Army will return to the NGV for the 2019 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition series – this time in a sophisticated dialogue with the work one of China’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Cai Guo-Qiang,’ said NGV Director, Tony Ellwood AM.

This exhibition was organised by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in partnership with Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, Shaanxi History Museum, Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, and Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum of the People's Republic of China.

Find more information on the unforgettable Melbourne Winter Masterpieces presentation of Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality and Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape on their website here!


Dates: 24 May 2019 – 13 October 2019

Location: NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Admission costs: Member $24 | Adult $30 | Concession $25 | Child (5-15 years) $10 | Family (2 adults + 3 children) $65

NGV International Website