Cai Guoqiang

Cai Guoqiang
b. 1957, Quanzhou, Fujian
Installation artist
Trained as a theatrical set designer, Cai Guoqiang graduated in 1985 from the Department of Stage Design at the Shanghai Drama Institute. In late 1986, he moved to Japan where he began to attract public attention as the Chinese ‘gunpowder artist’, making abstract paintings by leaving traces of gunpowder on paper and canvas. In the first half of the 1990s, Cai had frequent solo shows in Japan and overseas at important venues, such as the Osaka Contemporary Art Centre (1990) and the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford (1993). In 1995, Cai moved with his family to New York City to participate in the International Studio Programme at P.S.1, the Institute for Contemporary Art. Gaining increasing international success, Cai’s solo shows were organized at major institutions such as the Queens Museum of Art, New York (1997), the Taiwan Museum of Art (1998), the Kunsthalle, Vienna (1999), and the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris (2000). In 1999 he won the International Prize at the Venice Biennale with his work Venice Rent-Collection Courtyard, a literal remake of the most famous sculptural model canonized during the Cultural Revolution.
Using iconic Chinese references-fireworks, paper lanterns, medicinal herbs, Taihu rocks, junks terracotta warriors and traditional proverbs—in theatrical installations, Cai reinterprets rather than explores ancient Chinese concepts and cultural values, questioning their contemporary impact. His internationally acclaimed work has sometimes been criticized as catering to a Western taste for the exotic. For his part, he wilfully exacerbates obvious marks of national identity to demystify the necessity of cultural belonging imposed on non-Western artists in the international sphere.
Cai, Guo-Qiang (1994). ‘On Thought and Action’. In The Potential of Asian Thought: Contemporary Art Symposium, 1994. Tokyo: Japan Foundation ASEAN Culture Centre.
Chang, Tsong-zung (1998).
‘Beyond the Middle Kingdom: An Insider’s View’. In Gao Minglu (ed.), Inside Out: New Chinese Art (exhibition catalogue). Berkeley: University of California Press, 67–75.
Dal Lago, Francesca (2000). ‘Chinese Art at the Venice Biennale: The Virtual Reality of Chinese Contemporary Art’. In John Clark (ed.), Chinese Art at the End of the Millennium. Hong Kong: New Media, 158–66.
Fei, Dawei and Ujica, Andrei (2000). Cai GuoQiang. Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. London: Thames and Hudson.
Friis-Hansen, Dana Octavio Zaya and Serizawa, Takashi (2002). Cai Guo-Qiang. New York: Phaidon Press.
Hou, Hanru (1994). ‘Entropy; Chinese Artists, Western Art Institutions: A New Internationalism’. In Jean Fisher (ed.), Global Visions: Towards a New Internationalism in the Visual Arts. London: Kala Press, 79–88.
Hou, Hanru and Gao, Minglu (1998). ‘Strategies of Survival in the Third Space: A Conversation on the Situation of Overseas Chinese Artists in the 1990s’. In Gao Minglu (ed), Inside Out: New Chinese Art. Berkeley: University of California Press, 183–9.
Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (2002). Cai Guo-Qiang: Une Histoire arbitraire. Milan: 5 Continents Editions.
Venice Biennale (1997). Available at…vii/mostre_en/Guo_Qiang/caiguo.htm

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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