Cai Guo Qiang: Gunpowder and Explosives

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China. As a boy, he was exposed early on to Western literature from his father Cai Ruiqin, who worked in a bookstore. In the 1980’s he experimented with theater, and then combined art with experimental theater, mostly politically charged. In the 1990’s he started using gunpowder, fengshui, Chinese medicine, shanshui paintings, science, flora and fauna, portraiture,and fireworks, all of these perfect materials and narratives with which to create art as he see’s it, a social and political platform, one with deep roots in culture, a place to express his feelings and methodology. 

He is particulary drawn to the galaxy, and to his ancestors, and both have their own association with gunpowder.  With the advent of US and China exchanging artistic idea’s, his “explosion events” became quite popular in the west. Cai Guo on his gunpowder drawings , which strongly reflect Mao Zedong’s tenet “destroy nothing, create nothing.”…. “In some sense, Mao Zedong influenced all artists from our generation with his utopian romance and sentiment.”

His latest show, at MOCA in Los Angeles, Sky Ladder,  is his first West Coast exhibition. It includes 3 gunpowder drawings, an art performance called “Mystery Circle” and an installation called “Crop Circle”. 40,000 rockets were launched, airborne, for a spectacular show. The audience was in awe, and if you missed it, no worries, there’s a video loop of  the event.

“Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder” will be on display at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary from April 8 – July 30th, 2012.
More information at www.caiguoqiang.com & www.moca.org