Monday, February 18, 2008

Gunpowder Artist Cai Guo-Qiang

He experimented with various painting techniques that could
harness natural forces: blowing a fan over thinly applied paint on canvas; blistering a thick paint surface with heat; coaxing a dove to walk through green paint and onto a picture. More fruitfully, in 1984 he began to use the ancient Chinese invention of gunpowder — beginning by shooting fireworks at a canvas and then, for more control, developing a method of unrolling firecrackers, sprinkling the powder on canvas and igniting it. -- Arthur Lubow in the New York Times

There is an interesting article in today's New York Times about Cai Guo-Qiang, a New York based Chinese artist who uses gunpowder as an artistic medium. He is very successful, having won numerous awards and selling his paintings at auction for millions of dollars.

You can see how he makes his art by viewing the video here. Like the work of some other modern visual artists, the symbolism and meaning that makes it so valuable is lost on me. Like a work by Jackson Pollock, Cai's work is interesting but .... To me, using gunpowder to create an artistic vision is a fascinating idea. But is it anything more than simply clever?

1 comment:

Jenny Leary said...

Hi William, I ended up on this page while doing research for a seminar called "dangerous design". Your profile and book look good!

We're using Cai Guo-Qiang as an example of an artist who isn't afraid to take risks in his practice. (physical risks...part of the talk is about exposure to risky materials)

p.s. You should check out Sarah Van Gameren