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Cai Guo-Qiang

Stage, 2006, Site specific project. Photo Duccio Nacci

Cai Guo-Qiang

Stage, 2006, Site specific project

Cai Guo-Qiang

Impressions of Stage One, 2006, gunpowder on paper, backed on wood panel, 77 x 230 cm

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China.
Cai Guo-Qiang received a BFA in stage design from the Shanghai Drama Institute in 1985. He resided in Japan from 1986 to 1995, after which he moved to New York, where he has lived and worked ever since. In 1984 Cai first began experimenting with gunpowder and in 1989 staged the first of his public explosion events, which would become integral to his practice. He utilizes gunpowder’s charged identification with China, where it was invented, to create allegorical, sociopolitical commentaries that riff on saltpetre’s (potassium nitrate) associations with ancient medicine, ritual fireworks, and modern violence. By using explosives as pyrotechnical events outdoors or as a medium on paper, Cai recasts a quintessential Chinese material that takes the form of “burned paintings” carefully manipulated and conducted in their execution. In his varied practices and materials, Cai draws freely from ancient mythology, military history, Taoist cosmology, Maoist revolutionary tactics, Buddhist philosophy, pyrotechnic technology, Chinese medicine, and images of terrorist violence. Cai’s elaborate symbolism coded a metaphysics that would operate in his work over decades, where disaster and renewal, sickness and healing, and art and war are all revealed as part of the same unstable system. 

Cai Guo-Qiang
Cai Guo-Qiang
Cai Guo-Qiang