Original Source: www.thepeninsulaqatar.com, 3 October 2011
DOHA: ‘Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art’ Director Wassan Al Khudhairi has shared details on the Museum’s upcoming exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: Saraab with Chinese journalists in the artists’ hometown of Quanzhou, China.
Mathaf exhibition from December 5 to May 26, 2012, continues the museum’s commitment to presenting an Arab perspective on modern and contemporary art, as it turns eastward to consider dynamics across Asia for the first time.
The event, held at the Quanzhou Maritime Museum, showcased the deep-seated cross-cultural connections behind the artist’s work. Besides the artist, speakers included Al Khudhairi, who introduced Mathaf and its mission and Professor Wu Youxiong, famed historian and author, who spoke on the historical origins of Islam in Quanzhou.
During the briefing, journalists benefited from behind the scenes discussion about the artist’s first solo exhibition in the Middle East. Saraab, which means “mirage” in Arabic, explores links between the iconography and seafaring culture of the Arabian Gulf with the multi-layered history of the artist’s hometown Quanzhou.
“It’s an honour to be in Cai Guo Qiang’s hometown of Quanzhou since this city marks the beginning of the artist’s journey,” said Al Khudhairi. “I have heard much from Cai about Quanzhou, and I am thrilled to be here to experience it for myself. This city was the beginning of the Silk Road, and it is inspirational to see historic Arab elements in a place so far from the Arab World.”
Located on the southeast coast of China, Quanzhou was a significant maritime port on the ancient Silk Road and a trade hub for silk, porcelain, tea leaves and spices. The city also hosted some of the earliest Muslim missionaries, now buried in the city‘s Holy Mausoleum. Traces of Islamic influence, which had been a source of curiosity for the artist since his youth, include the local streetscape, the grand Ashab Mosque and cemeteries with countless Arabic-inscribed tombstones. Providing another insight into this history, Ding Yuling, Director of Quanzhou Maritime Museum referenced his museum’s collection to reflect upon the complex web of historic and contemporary connections between China and the Arab World. The event concluded with a presentation by the artist, who discussed his personal inspiration for the works.