Originally from Quanzhou, China and currently based in the United States, Cai Guo-Qiang began his artistic career as an oil painter in the 1970s, but while studying at the Shanghai Theatre Academy in the early 1980s, he began experimenting with gunpowder as an artistic medium. He further refined his technique when he lived in Japan from 1986 to 1995 and continued working primarily with gunpowder after moving to the United States in 1995. Cai uses gunpowder not only for large-scale fireworks and explosions, but also for an innovative practice in which he carefully detonates the gunpowder against canvas or other materials to produce suggestive images. He has stated that he was attracted to the multiple and contradictory connotations of gunpowder, noting that “in China every significant social occasion of any kind, good or bad—weddings, funerals, the birth of a baby, a new home—is marked by the explosion of fireworks. . . . I saw gunpowder used in both good ways and bad, in destruction and reconstruction.”


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pp. 130-135
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