Cai Guo-Qiang Plays With Fire

The artist Cai Guo-Qiang was trained in stage design at the Shanghai Theater Academy. But while living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, he explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, an examination that eventually led to his experimentation with explosives on a massive scale, and ultimately to the development of his signature explosion events.

Restrained Violence: Rainbow: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 25, realized at Tribune Hall, Johannesburg Power Station, South Africa, 1995.  (Takashi Shinkawa/Cai Studio)

Cai incorporates temporal and spatial dynamics in both the subject and the creative process of his explosion events, art installations, and gunpowder drawings.

The spontaneity and unpredictability in his site-specific work reflects his adherence to the principles of feng shui and Chinese medicine, which promote adaption to the flow of energy and nature's course.

Footprints of History: Fireworks Project for the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.  (Hiro Ihara/Cai Studio)

Fallen Blossoms: Explosion Project, realized at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2009.  (Lonnie Graham/The Fabric Workshop and Museum)

Sketch of Chaos in Nature, pencil on paper, 2012. ( Cai Studio)

Cai Guo-Qiang sprinkling gunpowder onto canvas to create Chaos in Nature, Los Angeles, 2012. (Joshua White/The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles)

Cai Guo-Qiag, Chaos in Nature, 2012, gunpowder on canvas, mounted on wood as eight-panel screen, commissioned by The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles. (Joshua White/The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angele)

Ignition of Desire for Zero Gravity, Los Angeles, 2012. (Joshua White/The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles)

Sketch of Desire for Zero Gravity, pencil on paper, 2012. ( Cai Studio)

Desire for Zero Gravity, Los Angeles, 2012. ( Joshua White/The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles)

Cai Guo-Qiang in front of Desire for Zero Gravity, Los Angeles, 2012. (Joshua White/The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles)

To see firsthand Qiang's exhibition Sky Ladder from April 8-July 30 visit The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA.

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