ART PROGRAM

Cai Guo-Qiang

(b. 1957, Quanzhou)
Currently based in New York's Lower East Side, Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China. He was influenced in art early on by his father, Mr. Cai Ruiqin, who was a calligrapher and painter in the traditional styles of Chinese painting. Cai was also exposed to western art as his father worked in a bookstore, which offered the younger Cai an opportunity to study art created outside of China.

Curious to experiment with western art forms such as oil painting, Cai studied stage design at the Shanghai Theater Academy and his work has since crossed multiple art mediums including drawing, installation, and video art. This experience in theater art prepared Cai for the elements of spectacle and performance seen in his later large scale gunpowder works.

Cai began exploring the possibilities of incorporating gunpowder in his paintings while he was living in Japan from 1986 to 1995. As the gunpowder exploded, it would leave traces of burnt marks on the painting, creating seemingly random and uncontrolled patterns. As part of the generation that witnessed the Cultural Revolution in China, Cai saw in gunpowder the perfect medium to create art that was a contrast to the controlled environment and academicism found in Chinese art at the time.

Since arriving in New York in 1995 on an artist exchange program, Cai has developed his artistic career full force with special emphasis on his gunpowder art and installations. He had held many major solo exhibitions including Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, 2006. His retrospective I Want to Believe opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in February 2008 traveled to the National Art Museum of China in Beijing in August 2008, and then to the Guggenheim Bilbao in March 2009. In 2011, Cai held a solo exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: Saraab at the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, his first ever in a Middle Eastern country. In 2012, he appeared in three solo exhibitions: Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Cai Guo-Qiang: Spring at the Zhejiang Art Museum in Hangzhou, China, and A Clan of Boats at the Faurschou Foundation, Copenhagen, Denmark.

TIGER WITH ARROWS

2005
GUNPOWDER ON PAPER, BACKED ON WOOD PANEL
THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, LOS ANGELES
THE EAST WEST BANK COLLECTION, PURCHASED AND PROMISED GIFT OF EAST WEST BANK
90 3/4 X 272 13/16 IN

On display at:

PASADENA COMMERCIAL BANKING CENTER, CALIFORNIA

Cai Guo-Qiang is perhaps the most explosive artist working today. "Explosive" because Cai uses gunpowder to create artworks that emphasize spontaneity, convey the transformation of energy, and encourage dialogue between the audience and their surroundings.

Using gunpowder, Cai Guo-Qiang artworks are at once powerful and energetic as the explosions leave charred marks and traces behind that form the main visual elements of the works. Gunpowder has its deep roots in Chinese culture. The artist himself has stated that he draws upon eastern philosophy and contemporary social issues as a conceptual basis in his artworks. Tiger with Arrows is also an example of Cai's body of work that references traditional Chinese culture, as the tiger is a common subject in traditional Chinese art and a recurrent theme in Cai's work. Just as gunpowder can be destructive so can be the tiger. Yet here both subjects are stripped of their destructive power and are combined to create an art piece that emphasizes the visual impact rather than any historical background or subject matter.

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