Encounters with Asia: A Conversation with Cai Guo-Qiang

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Cai Guo-Qiang. City of Flowers in the Sky: Daytime Explosion Event for Florence, 2018. Florence, Italy. Photo by Lin Yi. Courtesy Cai Studio.

One of the most visionary global artists working today, Cai Guo-Qiang is internationally acclaimed for his groundbreaking works in multiple media, especially those using gunpowder. Born in Quanzhou, China, in 1957, Cai began to experiment with gunpowder early in his career, and furthered his techniques while living in Japan from 1986 to 1995. His works include large-scale firework displays and explosions, ephemeral events that are captured on video, as well as gunpowder “paintings” on surfaces such as silk and paper, created using the scorching effect of strategically placed gunpowder trails. Among his most famous works are the fireworks display for the opening of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the recent City of Flowers in the Sky in Florence, and Sky Ladder, perhaps his most deeply felt work, which is dedicated to his grandmother. Cai moved to New York in 1995 and now divides his time between New York and China. His awards include the 48th Venice Biennale International Golden Lion Prize, the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2007, and the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2009. In 2012 he was named as laureate for the prestigious Praemium Imperiale, and was one of the first five artists to receive the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts for his outstanding commitment to international cultural exchange.

A viewing of videos documenting Cai’s works will be followed by a conversation between the artist and Colin Mackenzie, curator of Chinese art at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Student attendance for this event is generously funded by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

For more information on all Encounters with Asia events, please visit the series page.

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