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 Guoqiang Cai  (1957 - )

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Lived/Active: New York / China      Known for: installation sculpture, abstract painting

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Guo-Qiang Cai is primarily known as Guoqiang Cai

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Cai Guo-Qiang
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Described as "arguably the most widely recognized Chinese artist of our Day", Cai Guo-Qiang lives in both New York City and Bejing.  He was raised in the port city of Quanzhou in Fujian Province where his father was a calligrapher and a worker in a book store.  During the Cultural Revolution, young Guo-Qiang participated in many parades and demonstrations, but the Revolution ended when he was age 19.  He then studied set design, and acquired his life-long interest in expressing in his artwork themes of current, everyday Chinese culture.  Especially influential was his artist friend, Chen Zhen. 

Freed from government restraints, Gua-Qiang participated in the early phases of the New Wave of Art Expression in the mid 1980s, but departed for Paris and then took up residency in Japan before the movement was having much affect.

In Japan, he began working with extraterrestrial themes and with gunpowder and fireworks.  One of his conceptual pieces, No. 10: Project to Extend the Great Wall of China, 1993, was an igniting for 15 minutes of a fuse six miles beyond the western end of the Great Wall in the Gobi Desert.

In 1995, Cai Guo-Qiang moved to New York City, funded partially by the Asian Cultural Council.  That same year, he was represented in the Venice Biennale with a Chinese Junk he sailed on the Grand Canal loaded with goods and titled Bringing to Venice What Marco Polo Forgot.

In 2007, a traveling retrospective of his work was launched at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and by March, 2009 will be at the Guggenheim Bilbao.  Titled Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, the New York exhibition was composed of eight major sized installations plus gunpowder drawing, photos and videos.  A critic wrote that components include "a dozen full  size automobiles, 'exploding' with multicolored light tubes, dangled in a tumbling sequence from the 98-foot high skylight to the floor.  Numerous real-looking wolves and tigers could be glimpsed frozen in mid-somersault above the curved railing, and strange wooden craft lurked in several recesses.  The artist, once a student of stage design, had taken visual command of a major U.S. cultural institute without apology and without reserve."

Nearly 350,000 visitors attended this exhibition, the Guggenheim's second most attended exhibition with the 2001 Frank Gehry being the first one.

Richard Vine, "China Envy", Art in America, October, 2008, pp. 143-147

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in China and based in New York City, Cai Guo-Qiang had an entry, Rent Collection Courtyard, in the 1999 Venice Biennale that caused quite a sensation among Chinese officials who are suing him for copyright infringement.  The work with 81 figures and twelve tons of clay is a partial life-size replica of a famous Socialist-Realist sculpture originally produced in the 1960s during the Cultural Revolution.

Guo-Qiang saw the piece in China and based his work on photos and models.  His detractors are claiming that the work irreverently portrays China, and the dispute has initiated some of the first public dialogue in China about the value of art produced during the Cultural Revolution.

Gua-Qiang left his native China in 1986, and from that time, settled in New York, and gained a strong reputation internationally.  At the 2001 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in China attended by President George Bush, the artist devised a firework spectacular on the Huangpu River for the closing of the forum.

Art in America

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