Cai Guo-Qiang


Cai Guo-Qiang (b. 1957, Quanzhou, China) was trained in stage design at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, and his work has since crossed multiple mediums within art including drawing, installation, video, and performance. Cai began to experiment with gunpowder in his hometown Quanzhou. He continued exploring its properties while living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, which led to his signature outdoor explosion events. Drawing upon his sentiments toward the cosmos, Eastern philosophy, and contemporary social issues as a conceptual basis, his artworks, which are often site-specific, respond to culture and history to establish an exchange between viewers and the larger time-space around them. His explosion art and installations are imbued with a force that transcends the two-dimensional plane to engage with society and nature.

Cai was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1999, the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2007, and the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2009. In 2012, he was honored as a Laureate for the prestigious Praemium Imperiale, which recognizes lifetime achievement in the arts across categories not covered by the Nobel Prize. The same year, he was named as one of the five artists to receive the first U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts for his outstanding commitment to international cultural exchange. His recent honors include the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Award in 2015, the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA), the Japan Foundation Awards, and the Asia Arts Award Honoree in 2016, and the 2020 Isamu Noguchi Award. Cai also served as Director of Visual and Special Effects for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Cai’s many solo exhibitions and projects over the past three decades include Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2006 and his retrospective I Want to Believe at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2008. Cai Guo-Qiang: Peasant da Vincis toured to three cities in Brazil in 2013, attracting over one million visitors. The Rio de Janeiro iteration became the most visited exhibition by a living artist worldwide that year. In June 2015, Cai created the explosion event Sky Ladder in his hometown Quanzhou. The artwork became the centerpiece of the Netflix documentary Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang, directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald.

His recent major projects include those related to his Individual’s Journey Through Western Art History, and the explosion event Encounter with the Unknown: Cosmos Project for Mexico in 2019. His solo exhibition Odyssey and Homecoming was on view at the Palace Museum, Beijing, from December 2020 to February 2021. Co-hosted by the Beijing Winter Olympics Committee and the Palace Museum, the exhibition marks the culmination of his Individual’s Journey Through Western Art History. Odyssey and Homecoming will tour to the new Museum of Art Pudong in Shanghai as one of its inaugural exhibitions, on view between July 8, 2021 and March 7, 2022.       

He currently lives and works in New York.

For more information, please visit:
Instagram: caistudio
Wechat official account: 蔡国强工作室




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