Philadelphia, PA – On September 14th at 8pm, Cai Guo-Qiang’s largest public art project in the United States in the past decade opened on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. In a one-time twenty minute performance directed by Cai Guo-Qiang, local participants steered 27 pedicabs adorned with nearly 1,000 multi colored lanterns of various shapes, hand-crafted in the artist’s hometown of Quanzhou. For this occasion, Cai designed a choreography based on the flowing and languorous movements of the lanterns. The “fireflies” followed the variations of a musical composition into the gathering darkness of the Parkway as though spinning and dancing into a late summer carnivalesque dream. At the conclusion of the performance, a crowd of over 1,000 spectators flooded the Parkway to congratulate the drivers and take selfies with their favorite lanterns. Fireflies is a humorous tribute to the centennial of the artery. As the city’s cultural axis with profound political meaning; it brings participants and spectators to reflect on the relationship between public art, and the city, its people and society.
“mesmerizing…the event lasted only 20 minutes but generated a feel-good response.” — The New York Times
“it was just so charming and it made you laugh,” said Lauren Raske, 31, an event planner
“It’s a nighttime activity and the mystique of the evening makes it a little romantic,” said Nicole Dugan, a physical therapist, “Even on this small scale, it was really spectacular.”
“This is not just from Cai’s childhood but from everyone’s childhood,” – Sadigaa Horton, 45, pedicab driver
The opening night preludes a month’s duration of the public component of Fireflies: commencing September 15th, members of the public are invited to board the vehicles to take rides up and down the Parkway from Sister Cities Park to Iroquois Park near the Philadelphia Museum Art. The rides will be operated for four weeks, Thursdays through Sundays, between 6-10pm, until October 8, 2017. As of September 15th, all the advance time slots have been reserved, but walk-ins remain available. Fireflies is commissioned and organized by Association for Public Art with curator Lance Fung of San Francisco’s Fung Collaboratives.
Cai Guo-Qiang has an unforgettable relationship with the city of Philadelphia—his explosion event Fallen Blossom in 2009 was seen in front of the façade of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, located at the end of the iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway– in homage of the late director Anne d’Harnoncourt. Fireflies was an entirely new and grassroots experience. Responding to an open call, several Philadelphians partook in the performance and project as pedicab operators, while visitors from the city and around the world witnessed the performance and rode the pedicabs. Lanterns in the shapes of cars, submarines, cosmic ships, slippers, sushi, donuts as well as little roosters, extraterrestrials, and emoticons were fabricated in Quanzhou before being shipped thousands of miles away to be installed in Philadelphia. Shuttling back and forth on the Parkway aligned with flags from hundreds of different countries, the fireflies remind people of the countless cultures and peoples that take root in the Unites States. Over the next four weeks, the pedicabs will generate encounters between peoples of various backgrounds.
This summer, Cai Guo-Qiang spent several days in Philadelphia in preparation for the opening performance. During the dress rehearsal, a long procession of “fireflies,” generating a trail of bright light, was escorted by the police from the production headquarters in Olde Kensignton, through Ludlow and Poplar to Center City all the way to the Parkway. The neighborhoods became alive with the passing of the fireflies; city dwellers and local residents spontaneously stopped to cheer and take photographs, enjoying the excitement of a chance encounter with public art…
“Small roosters and red stars…a lot of the lanterns you see here resemble those I used to play with as a kid in Quanzhou,” said Cai Guo-Qiang, “they are the inextinguishable fireworks of my childhood…For the centennial of the Benjamin Franklin parkway, I didn’t wish to create a large scale celebration, but rather a playful and light evening, to return the Parkway to the people and let them participate in the creative process.”
The musical composition for Firelfies was edited by Liu Ruomu, an undergraduate student at Emery College, from the original official state song “Pennsylvania” by Eddie Khoury and Ronnie Bonner. A 9-minute documentary sharing the same title was directed by Shanshan Xia.
Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies information:
Enjoy FREE one-way Fireflies pedicab rides move along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from Iroquois Park to Sister Cities Park or vice versa.
September 15 – October 8, 2017
Thursdays through Sundays from 6-10pm
The vehicles can accommodate up to two passengers, and each trip takes approximately 15 minutes. Walk-ups are welcome, but online reservations can be made here.
For more information, please visit
Moscow – The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts announces the long-anticipated opening of renowned international artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s first solo exhibition in Russia: October. On the occasion of the October Revolution’s centenary, Cai specifically created for the Pushkin Museum a series of bold new works that reflect on the role of individuals in history and the relationship between individual dreams and collective ideals. The exhibition will be held with the support of Sberbank and will be on view in the main building of the museum from September 13 to November 12, 2017, as a crucial component of the “Pushkin XXI” project.
During the past two weeks prior to the exhibition’s opening, local passers-by often gathered outside the Museum to photograph the installation Autumn. Their posts on social media stirred curious discussions about the classical architecture’s transformation. A 16m-high mountain constructed out of hundreds of stacked baby cradles, cribs and strollers gradually rose at the entrance of the centuries-old museum, engulfing the front steps and colonnade. Then over three days, a crane planted one to two white birch trees of 3-4m in each cradle and birch saplings in each stroller. The larger trees shelter the small, forming a verdurous birch forest. During the installation process, this forest has already begun to yellow from the oncoming autumn. Over the course of the exhibition, the fallen leaves will blanket the mountainside, revealing the white trunks of the birches and the Constructivist-like structure of the mountain itself.
Literally obstructing the museum entrance, the dominating Autumn marks the beginning of an entirely original visual experience. Inside, the artist continues to manipulate the museum’s space. Hovering over the central staircase is The Sound, a 20m-long piece of silk scorched with gunpowder calligraphy that divides the lofty space in half. The two-dimensional art of calligraphy and painting is transformed into a poetic, spatial installation work filled with momentum. As viewers ascend the staircase, hovering overhead on the smooth white silk is a cautionary lyric from The Internationale: “There are no supreme saviors: neither God, nor tsar, nor hero!” By the time the words seem within reach, the visitor will have entered the White Room.
The ceiling is covered by a silver mirror, multiplying the already expansive space. Two 20m-long gunpowder paintings on the facing walls, River and Garden, surrounds the field of Land in the center of the room. With this installation, created from nearly three million stalks of golden reed, Cai hopes to recreate the sense of mystery found in the Soviet films and Russian paintings of his childhood — the sunlight filtering through the clouds and shining on the wheat field, and likewise projecting into an adolescent mind the romantic ideas with regard to the freedom and beauty of life. Only through the reflection in the mirror overhead can viewers discern the symbols hidden within the crop circle. Simultaneously reflected are the countless images of civilians embedded within the black-and-white Riverof turbulent history, the colorful poppies, carnations, and Soviet posters found in the fantastical Garden, as well as the viewers themselves.
This inverse illusion leads viewers to reflect on their own relationships with the works.
As the orchestral arrangement of Tchaikovsky sounds, daytime fireworks launch from Red Square and the Moskva riverbank, painting one image after another in the sky, each filled with somber sensibility. The performance concludes with one hundred seconds of earthshattering, thunderous explosions, leaving behind a blinding white flash……October: Daytime Fireworks on Red Square.The exhibition reaches its climax with the video projection.
Beginning on September 4, Cai worked with local volunteers on-site at VDNKh No.22 to ignite the gunpowder works River, The Sound and Garden. The volunteers laid out a river of history with one hundred photographs depicting the lives of ordinary people; they taught Cai to write Russian calligraphy, and etched out enormous stencils of flowers. After Cai ignited each work, they rushed in to extinguish the sparks remaining on canvas. Together with the artist, they experienced the moments of suspense prior to each explosion and witnessed the birth of each work.
A bilingual catalogue in English and Russian will be available at the end of September. In addition to numerous images detailing the process and outcome of the exhibition, the catalogue will also include Cai’s stirring personal essay “A Boy’s October” and scholarly contributions by Alexandra Danilova, Alexander Etkins, Boris Groys, Lars Nittve. The catalogue integrates personal, historical, artistic and political perspectives, echoing and responding to the themes and questions raised by the exhibition.
This November, the exhibition will unveil a documentary film of the same name, directed by Shanshan Xia. The film not only details the many stories behind the making of the exhibition, but also presents Cai’s search of the Russian painter Konstantin Maksimov. It hopes, through the narrative of these two artists, to candidly address the vacillation and persistence of artists during changing times.
Cai Guo-Qiang Unveils Large-Scale Installation in Kyoto: A Tongue-in-Cheek Examination of East Asian Relations Today
Posted by Cai Studio in Uncategorized on August 21, 2017
KYOTO, JAPAN—On August 19, artist Cai Guo-Qiang introduces Bonsai Ship, a visually spectacular installation created specifically for the UNESCO World Heritage Site Nijo Castle, as part of the Asia Corridor Contemporary Art Exhibition within Culture City of East Asia 2017 Kyoto. The composition of the artwork is founded on a traditional Chinese wooden vessel, which has been reassembled on top of three massive boulders to contain five full-sized pine trees, forming an immense “bonsai” display of over 12m in height.
Towering in the Central Courtyard of Nijo Castle’s palace grounds, Bonsai Ship at once harmonizes with and stands distinct from the surrounding 17th-century architecture. The pines and boulders were carefully selected for their resemblance to landscapes in shanshui ink wash painting, an ancient Chinese artistic tradition that later expanded to Japan and Korea. The installation thus utilizes the imagination and formal expression of contemporary art, while at the same time humorously evoking the history and present state of East Asia.
Bonsai Ship can be traced back to Cai’s earlier project To Build a Ship, which took part in Culture City of East Asia 2016 Nara. As a work that merged performance and installation art, To Build a Ship brought a team of Chinese shipbuilders to Nara’s historic temple Todai-ji, where they constructed a 13m-long traditional junk boat on-site. The building process was open to the public and, upon completion, the fully functional vessel floated on Todai-ji’s Mirror Pond for several months.
Not unlike the progression of human history, this same ship has now arrived in Kyoto to become Bonsai Ship. Discussing the two projects, Cai Guo-Qiang states: “To Build a Ship, realized at Nara’s Todai-ji, was a project that allowed viewers to transcend the boundaries of space-time; it prompted us to reinterpret the course of history and rethink the time that we live in. It symbolized the mutual inheritance and influence that East Asian cultures have had on one another for centuries. In face of the difficult realities that now exist among these nations, the project raised the question: Can we continue sailing in this ship together?”
“Today, the ship has reached Kyoto, integrating with the environment of Nijo Castle to become the fantastical and miraculous Bonsai Ship. Taking on a humorous tone, it asks: ‘The spirit of Eastern philosophy and the ambitions of peace embodied by the Culture City of East Asia — are these simply an immense bonsai display?’”
Asia Corridor Contemporary Art Exhibition is hosted by Kyoto City in collaboration with the Japan Agency of Cultural Affairs and the Kyoto Art Center. Its Art Director and renowned curator Tatehata Akira said of Bonsai Ship: “As the title suggests, it is literally a massive ‘bonsai boat’ that invites laughter with its nonsensical humor … it is an artwork that makes a ‘spectacle of civilization’ on a large scale that is very characteristic of Cai.”
Bonsai Ship will be on view until October 15, 2017.
Culture City of East Asia 2017 Kyoto: Asia Corridor Contemporary Art Exhibition
Venue: Nijo Castle, Kyoto Art Center
Dates: August 19 – October 15, 2017
Hours: Nijo Castle opens every day from 8:45 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Last Admission: 4 p.m.)
Kyoto Art Center opens every day from 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
For more information please visit:
About Culture City of East Asia
Culture City of East Asia is a tri-national collaboration that takes place annually in cities selected by the governments of Japan, China and South Korea as a series of yearlong cultural and arts events and exchange projects. The program aims to further the development of the host cities, as well as promote mutual understanding and solidarity in the region through the power of culture. Alongside fellow 2017 host cities Changsha (China) and Daegu (South Korea), Kyoto will organize a wide range of events, including traditional culture, contemporary art, performing arts, music, manga, and anime. Previous host cities include Quanzhou, Qingdao and Ningbo in China; Yokohama, Niigata and Nara in Japan; and Guangju, Cheongju and Jeju in South Korea.
About Nijo Castle
Nijo-jo, or Nijo Castle, was constructed by the Tokugawa shogunate during the Edo period (1603–1868). Construction first began in 1603 under the first-ever shogun, Ieyasu, and was extended in 1626 by the third shogun, Iemitsu. The castle later served as the Kyoto prefectural government and as a villa for the imperial family. Its grounds, surrounded by a moat stretching approximately 500m east to west and 400m north to south, are a designated National Historic Site and were registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The existing Ninomaru Palace (a National Treasure) comprises six buildings made in the shoinzukuri architectural style that conveys the sophistication of Momoyama-period art through its sculptures and ornaments. It houses 3,600 wall paintings of the Kano school, 1,016 of which have been designated as Important National Treasures. Nijo Castle occupies a unique position in the history of the Edo Era; it hosted both the celebrations of the first shogun’s reign as well as the official transfer of power in 1867 from the last shogun to the emperor. 2017 happens to mark the 150th anniversary of the historic event.
About the Artistic Director
Born in 1947 in Kyoto, Tatehata Akira graduated with a degree in French literature from Waseda University in 1972. From 2005–11 he served as director of The National Museum of Art, Osaka, and was president of Kyoto City University of Arts from 2011–15. He has been director of Museum of Modern Art, Saitama since 2011 and president of Tama Art University since 2016. He specializes in modern and contemporary art. He has been involved with numerous Asian modern and contemporary art projects and international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale, where he was commissioner for the Japan Pavilion in 1990 and 1993, and as artistic director for Yokohama Triennale 2001 and Aichi Triennale 2010.
Posted by Cai Studio in Uncategorized on March 30, 2017
CAI GUO-QIANG: OCTOBER
Venue: The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts main building (Volkhonka, 12, Moscow, Russia)
Exhibition dates: September 12 – November 12, 2017
In September 2017, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts will present leading international contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s first solo exhibition in Russia: Cai Guo-Qiang: October. A reflection on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the ambitious body of work originally created for the exhibition will transform the main exhibition areas of the museum.
The exhibition is a comprehensive introduction of the artist’s diverse yet distinctive practice to the Russian art world and local audiences. Artworks include large-scale outdoor and indoor installations, gunpowder paintings, a multi-media video installation, and small-scale sculptures and sketches. Upon entering the courtyard, visitors are greeted by a grandiose outdoor installation on the central staircase leading to the entrance of the museum, titled Autumn. A man-made mountain composed of birch trees and hundreds of baby cradles donated by Moscow residents, towers over the visitors and offers an astounding visual impression. For some, it will evoke a famous scene from Battleship Potemkin (1925) by Sergei Eisenstein.
The various artworks trace the artist’s personal journey: growing up in Communist China, later moving to Japan and now residing in the US, he has never ceased to expand his artistic activities to various parts of the world by collaborating with local communities, which is an important part of Cai Guo-Qiang’s projects. Ordinary people are often involved, and are able to relate to his artworks on a deeply personal level. In Moscow, Cai Guo-Qiang will continue to pursue this artistic methodology, and will create two 20-meter-long gunpowder paintings and one calligraphy on silk, all involving the participation of local residents. With his signature medium of gunpowder, Cai Guo-Qiang continues to transform this ancient Chinese invention, approaching it with modern technology and a contemporary attitude. His creative process comments on the continuity of history, its everlasting quality, which is also a theme evoked in this exhibition.
Marina Loshak, Director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts:
“The exhibition, dedicated to the Centenary of the Revolution, will be created in the form of a dialogue between contemporary art and the architecture of a classical museum, a finished work and the history of its creation, past events and the hopes of today.”
Conceived upon the centenary of the October Revolution, the exhibition considers the subjects of history, revolution and utopian dreams. According to Cai Guo-Qiang, “These topics should not stay as grand narratives of ideologies or social systems. Instead, we need to discuss more specifically how ‘the people’ is composed of many individuals. Whether prosperous or unfortunate, history is created by individuals, who must take responsibility and assume consequences. ‘Why do people have ideals?’ ‘How do we realize them?’ These kinds of questions are not only directed at the past, but also at the present. They are not only directed at China and Russia, but at the entire world.”
About the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is a museum complex that is currently in possession of the largest world art collections in Moscow, Russia. Today, around 700,000 art works from different epochs are present in the Pushkin museum’s collection, ranging from Ancient Egypt and Greece up until the beginning of XXI century. The assemblage of XIX-XX century French art is most exceptional in the museum and one of the most distinguished ones in the world. The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art attempts to engage modernity and classic art works in a mutual dialogue, as well as offer its original perception on widely recognized art pieces.
Posted by Cai Studio in Uncategorized on March 15, 2017
The Prado Museum announces a solo exhibition by contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Cai Guo-Qiang at the Prado: The Spirit of Painting will be open from October 24, 2017 to March 4, 2018. This will be the second solo exhibition by a living artist since the museum’s founding in 1819, following an exhibition by the late Cy Twombly organized in 2008. The Spirit of Painting is co-curated by the museum’s director Miguel Zugaza and senior curator Alejandro Vergara.
The Prado houses one of the world’s greatest painting collections, and holds the most comprehensive and definitive collection of Spanish painting and sculpture. It is especially known for its collection of works by Titian, Bosch, Rubens, El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya.
Inspired by the spirit and glory of painting that resides in this 200-year old museum’s collection from the Spanish Golden Age, Cai Guo-Qiang embarks on a journey to discover the spirit of his own painting, and raises questions on the current predicaments of contemporary painting. By engaging in a dialogue with the Prado’s expert staff and collection, he strives to establish his roots in the painting tradition. Through the works in this exhibition, he seeks to re-envision the spirit of painting, while remaining true to his methods.
Visitors will learn about Cai Guo-Qiang’s enduring dialogue with El Greco, which has inspired him from a young age. This includes Cai’s early paintings that were heavily influenced by El Greco, and documentation from his 2009 pilgrimage that retraced El Greco’s life from his hometown in Crete, to Venice, Madrid, and finally to his resting place in Toledo.
Cai Guo-Qiang will use his unique artistic method to demonstrate his pursuit of the spirit of painting found in the techniques, subjects, and sensibilities of great masters such as Titian, El Greco, Velazquez, Rubens, and Goya. Through more than twenty gunpowder paintings of varying scale, visitors will witness the artist’s experimentation with painting techniques and local gunpowder materials, his sketches, and in depth research that reveal the process behind each paintings on display.
Beginning in late September this year, Cai Guo-Qiang will create the majority of paintings on-site in the historic Salón de Reinos (Hall of Realms). Over 400 years ago, Rey Planeta (King of the Planet) Philip IV received envoys from every realm in this formidable venue. He commissioned the most eminent painters in Spain and Europe, including Velazquez, to create paintings for the Salón de Reinos, engaging these masters in fierce artistic competition. The Hall was later transformed into a military museum. For Cai Guo-Qiang, creating gunpowder paintings in the Salón de Reinos becomes a site-specific event, one that travels through time, revisiting shadows of the distant past and challenging the imagination and creativity of the present day. At dusk on October 23, Cai Guo-Qiang will explode the immense artwork The Spirit of Painting, which will be the centerpiece of the exhibition.
José Pedro Pérez Llorca, President of the Royal Board of Trustees of the Prado Museum, and José Manuel Entrecanales, Executive Chairman of ACCIONA, signed an agreement of collaboration today to offer support for the exhibition. Director Zugaza and the artist would like to extend their sincere gratitude to Mr. Silas Chou and Elena & Alberto Cortina for their special contributions to the exhibition.
Cai Guo-Qiang at the Prado: The Spirit of Painting
Curator: Miguel Zugaza, Director of the Prado Museum; Co-Curator: Alejandro Vergara, Senior Curator at the Prado Museum
Organizer: Prado Museum
Location: Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain
On-Site Creation: Late September, 2017 to October 23, 2017 at the Salón de Reinos, Madrid, Spain
VIP Opening: October 24, 2017
Exhibition Dates: October 25, 2017 to March 4, 2018
About the Prado Museum and the Salón de Reinos
The Prado was established in Madrid, Spain in 1819, and is recognized for having the world’s greatest collection of paintings; it is also the museum with the most comprehensive and definitive collection of Spanish painting and art. Its collection currently comprises more than 30,000 historically significant pieces, around 8,000 of which compose the highest quality collection of painting in the world. The Prado is especially renowned for its significant collection of Titian, Bosch, and Rubens, as well as its comprehensive collection of the three great painters of Spain: El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya. Since the 20th century, the Prado has continued to expand and renew itself, and is now the singular most important hallmark of Spanish culture and art.
The Salón de Reinos (Hall of Realms) was built between 1630-1635; it is one of the very few structures that remain of the Palacio del Buen Retiro (Buen Retiro Palace) of Philip IV of Spain (1605-1665). The name of the Hall originates from the coat of arms of the 24 kingdoms that composed the Kingdom of Spain under Philip IV. The Salón de Reinos once housed the largest collection of paintings owned by Spanish royalty, all of which have entered the Prado’s collection. It was later transformed into a military museum until the early 21st century, when the Spanish Ministry of Culture designated it to become part of the Prado. In 2016, the Prado announced that Pritzker Prize-winner architect Norman Foster would direct the renovation of the Hall, currently set to begin in late 2018. Philip IV once received the envoys of countless “realms” in the very space where Cai Guo-Qiang will create gunpowder paintings; he also commissioned the most eminent European painters at the time to create paintings for the space, including masterpieces such as Velazquez’s tour de force The Surrender of Breda.
About the Artist
Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China. From 1981 to 1985, he trained in stage design at the Shanghai Theater Academy. His artistic expression spans multiple mediums including painting, installation, video, and performance. While living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, he explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, an inquiry that eventually led to his experimentation with explosives on a massive scale and to the development of his signature explosion events. Drawing upon Eastern philosophy and contemporary social issues as a conceptual basis, these projects and events aim to establish an exchange between viewers and the larger universe around them, utilizing a site-specific approach to culture and history.
Cai’s accolades include the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2007, and the 20th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2009. In 2012, He was honored as a laureate for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts in Painting by the prestigious Praemium Imperiale, an award that recognizes lifetime achievement in the arts in categories not covered by the Nobel Prize. In the same year, he was selected as one of the five artists who received the first U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts award for his outstanding commitment to international cultural exchange. His more recent honors include: the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Award in 2015, the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA) 2016, the Japan Foundation Award in 2016, and the Asia Art Award in 2016. Cai also served as Director of Visual and Special Effects for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
For the past three decades, his art has been featured in almost all major international exhibitions, and he has held solo exhibitions in numerous world-famous art institutions, among them Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006 and his retrospective I Want to Believe, which opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2008 and later travelled to the National Art Museum of China and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, among others. In October 2013, Cai created One Night Stand (Aventure d’un Soir), an explosion event for Nuit Blanche, a citywide art and culture festival organized by the city of Paris. Also in 2013, his solo exhibitionDa Vincis do Povo, went on a three-city tour around the country in 2013. Traveling from Brasilia to São Paulo before reaching its final destination in Rio de Janeiro, it was the most visited exhibition by a living artist worldwide that year with over one million visitors.
On June 15, 2015, Cai realized his most recent explosion event Sky Ladder off of Huiyu Island, Quanzhou, China. His latest solo exhibition, Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting opened in September 2016 at the Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht in the Netherlands.
He currently lives and works in New York.
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On October 18, Cai Guo-Qiang received the 2016 Japan Foundation Award in Tokyo, becoming the second artist after Ikuo Hirayama (1930 – 2009) to be honored with this award. Hundreds of distinguished guests attended the ceremony, including diplomats from 60 countries and 25 members of the Japanese House of Councilors. This year the Japan Foundation Award was also presented to Professor Susan J. Pharr (Edwin O. Reischauer Professor of Japanese Politics and Director, Program on U.S.—Japan Relations, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University) and to the institution Centro Brasileiro de Língua Japonesa (CBLJ) in Brazil.
The annual Japan Foundation Awards were created in 1973 by the Japan Foundation, an independent administrative institution under the supervision of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With a 44-year history, the Awards comprise of a grant of 3 million yen. Over the years, they have been given to individuals as well as organizations that cultivate a mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and the world through academic, artistic, and other cultural endeavors. Previous notable Japanese recipients include Akira Kurosawa (1982), Seiji Ozawa (1988), Hayao Miyazaki (2005), and Haruki Murakami (2012).
The Japan Foundation devotes its attention to artists who contribute to promoting cultural exchange between Japan and other countries. On this occasion, the Foundation is recognizing Cai’s artistic practice around the globe, through which he creates works that integrate Eastern worldviews in dialogue with various regions including the Middle East and South America. Cai has always had a prominent presence in Japan. Since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, he has sponsored the Iwaki Manbon Sakura Project. In 2015, his large-scale solo exhibition There and Back Again opened at the Yokohama Museum of Art, and more recently in March 2016, he initiated an collaborative project in which he invited craftsmen to build a wooden boat in the pond in front of Todaiji Temple in Nara, alluding to the possibility of Japan and China “sailing” with each other’s support. The Japan Foundation not only recognizes the artist’s efforts in connecting different regions and civilizations, but also honors his contribution to consolidating a global culture that transcends national boundaries and artistic practices.
The President of the Japan Foundation Hiroyasu Ando presented the Awards and the Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua attended the ceremony. In his reception speech, Cai stated:
“Every visit to Japan is a chance for me to think about the East, about Asia. In particular, the philosophical and artistic methodologies I’ve created with friends in Japan—methodologies that are multifaceted, harmonious, and coexist with nature in an East Asian context—have allowed me to move freely within different cultures, and create art in collaboration with different people.
I remember phoning Japanese costume designer Eiko Ishioka, inviting her to act as the director of costume design for the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony…To reassure her, I arranged for her office to be next to mine, so she only had to knock on the wall and I would be right over. I also asked my daughter, who speaks Japanese, to be her assistant, helping her out with her stay in China. The collaboration between Eiko Ishioka and the Chinese artists created the tremendous success of the Olympic opening ceremony.
A few years later, she passed away from an illness. Her husband told me that, in her final days, she had a picture of the ceremony director Zhang Yimou and myself up on the wall next to her bed.
Stories like the one I shared with Eiko Ishioka, as well as my experiences in Japan and throughout the world, all serve to prove how exchanges between individuals and cultures can transcend history, overcome political strife, and build a little bit of hope for the future.”
Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting
September 29 2016: Exhibition Opening and Presentation of the Bonnefanten Award 2016
Maastricht 23.08.2016 – On 29 September, the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art 2016 (BACA) will be presented to Cai Guo-Qiang (1957, Quanzhou, Fujian, China). The BACA is the most important award for international visual art presented in the Netherlands, and it is awarded every two years since 2000. Consisting of a sum of 50,000 Euros, a publication and a solo exhibition, the Award is a tribute to a living non-Western artist with an exceptional oeuvre and a demonstrable influence on other artists, exhibition makers and art professionals. The Bonnefantenmuseum is presenting Cai Guo-Qiang’s first solo exhibition in the Netherlands: My Stories of Painting (30.09.2016 – 01.05.2017)
Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting
My Stories of Painting is the first exhibition that will focus on Cai’s long journey of painting in terms of two parallel paths. The first traces his restless exploration in painting by presenting over a hundred works of various periods, scales and mediums — many of which are shown for the first time. The exhibition begins with his time in China: watercolours and oil paintings, school assignments, experimental paintings, and oil paintings with gunpowder; followed by his time in Japan: paintings created only with gunpowder, and gunpowder drawings for explosion events; it then moves on to his time in New York and the global stage — works reflecting his unique challenge to the issue of painting through his consistent artistic methodology, including recent pieces following his return to creating independent gunpowder paintings. Evolving from black gunpowder to color gunpowder, this new stage registers the artist’s unrestrained pursuit of his childhood dream to become a painter as well as his confrontation with the integral challenges of contemporary painting.
The second path is that of his family: his grandmother, parents, wife, and daughters. Through their paintings, photography, and other works, viewers can see how generation after generation, the artist’s family accompanies and mutually influences Cai. In addition to the exhibition’s scholarly consideration of the artist’s paintings, the viewers will experience the intimate and arduous sides of a painter’s journey. Crossing the boundaries between cultures, the exhibition will resonate widely with audiences, and will be an important milestone in Cai’s decades-long exploration of painting.
Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting will be accompanied by a catalogue of the same title, available in English and Dutch published by Walther König Publisher. It includes essays by Cai Guo-Qiang, Bonnefantenmuseum director Stijn Huijts, as well as the former director M+ museum in Hong Kong, Lars Nittve.
Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA) 2016
In presenting the exhibition and publication by BACA laureate Cai Guo-Qiang, the Bonnefantenmuseum is once again drawing attention to an exceptional and influential oeuvre within contemporary art and introducing the public to a relevant, yet for many people an unfamiliar chapter of art history. Cai Guo-Qiang was awarded the BACA 2016 by a unanimous vote. The international selection committee for 2016 comprised of Cao Fei (artist), Stijn Huijts (Bonnefantenmuseum director), William Lim (architect, collector), Carol Lu (curator, writer), Lars Nittve (former director M+ Museum Hong Kong) and Uli Sigg (collector).
Invitation to the press preview
The museum invites members of the press to the preview of Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting on Thursday 29 September between 11:00am – 12:30pm. Please rsvp via firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information and visual material, please contact Lieke Heijmans, +31(0) 6 27 494 829, email@example.com.
The BACA and Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting receives generous support from the Province of Limburg, DSM, the Bankgiro Loterij, the Mondriaan Fund, the VSBFonds, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.