Cai Guo-Qiang, a globally acclaimed contemporary artist, recently presented his expansive solo exhibition titled “Ramble in the Cosmos – From Primeval Fireball Onward” at the National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT). The exhibition, jointly organized by NACT and Saint Laurent, showcases Cai’s extraordinary body of work.
Just before the exhibition’s opening, Cai orchestrated a daytime fireworks spectacle named “When the Sky Blooms with Sakura.” This commissioned event by Saint Laurent, in collaboration with the project’s Executive Committee, took place above the very coast where Cai’s explosive artwork, “The Horizon from the Pan-Pacific: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 14,” astonished audiences three decades ago.
The involvement of Saint Laurent in curating Cai Guo-Qiang’s exhibition aligns with their ongoing commitment, spearheaded by Anthony Vaccarello, to champion excellence across diverse creative realms such as visual arts, cinema, and music.
For years, Cai has been captivated by the vast universe and the enigmatic unseen world, drawing inspiration from feng shui, astrology, and ancient Eastern philosophies. His artistic exploration also encompasses contemporary perspectives on science and technology, enabling a deeper understanding of our boundless cosmos. Moreover, his artworks reflect profound contemplation on prevailing social issues. Employing gunpowder as his unique medium, Cai’s large-scale paintings, installations, and outdoor explosive projects have garnered international renown, offering a grand narrative that intertwines mythology and anthropology.
The NACT exhibition, “Ramble in the Cosmos – From Primeval Fireball Onward,” serves as a starting point akin to Cai’s artistic “Big Bang.” It endeavors to trace the progression of Cai’s creative journey by exploring the triggers that initiated this metaphorical explosion and the ensuing developments.
At the heart of the exhibition lies Cai’s ongoing dialogue with the universe and the hidden dimensions beyond. This thematic core manifests through a comprehensive presentation of his early works from China, his formative years in Japan, his contributions during his time in the United States, and his subsequent ascent onto the global stage. The exhibition reveals a rich artistic odyssey mirroring the expansion of the universe itself. Within NACT’s vast 2,000-square-meter gallery, 1E, a remarkable transformation transpires, resembling an expansive public square. One side of the exhibition hall faithfully reenacts Cai’s historical screen painting installation, Primeval Fireball, featuring three new glass and mirror paintings that explore fresh subjects. Adjacent to this lies another noteworthy highlight: Encounter with the Unknown, an expansive and dynamic LED installation.
Visitors are encouraged to freely navigate through these awe-inspiring artworks. The exhibition showcases approximately 50 carefully curated works, including pieces from major public art museums in Japan and Cai’s personal collection. The displays are further enhanced by a rich selection of rare archival materials, documentary videos, and insightful wall texts written from the artist’s first-person perspective. Collectively, the exhibition immerses audiences in a monumental installation, enabling them to intimately experience Cai Guo-Qiang’s distinctive perspectives and prolific artistic voyage. The exhibition is on view through August 21, 2023.
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National Art Center, Tokyo
7 Chome-22-2 Roppongi,
Minato City, Tokyo 106-8558