Cai Guo-Qiang has been part of the international contemporary art scene for over two decades. Praised as an exceptional artist by some, despised as an ephemeral artist because of the nature of his work by others, Cai Guo-Qiang has proved that he was a leading and central figure of China’s contemporary art world. He has built his career as a multi-disciplinary artist, complementing his original gunpowder performances and drawings with sculpture and installation. Born in 1957 in Fujian province, he lived in Japan for nine years before settling in New York. Here he has had important performances as the opening of Moma/PS1 in Queens or over Central Park. New York is also the city where Cai Guo-Qiang is presently having a blockbuster retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, the first devoted to a Chinese artist. As can be seen in his exhibition entitled “I want to believe”, Cai Guo-Qiang has largely redefined the notion of artmaking, which, to some, makes him one of the most innovative artists of his generation.
More recently, Cai Guo-Qiang has been in the headlines because of a record sale of a set of 14 gunpowder drawings that reached US$9.5 million at auction in Hong Kong at the end of 2007, a record for a work of Chinese contemporary art. In addition, he is also part of the creative team of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games to be held in Beijing this summer – an event awaited by an international audience with great expectations. Before pursuing his various projects, Cai Guo-Qiang took a moment to reflect on his career, and discuss his work with the Asian Art Newspaper.