Project 1 Artist Research: Cai Guo-Qiang

Okay so first of all, I think it is damn cool that this artist explodes things like…

But okay on a serious note, Cai creates artworks by using gunpowder as a medium. By using gunpowder he presents an oxymoron in his work and this opposing duality in itself is also an artwork. He uses gunpowder, something that is usually associated with destruction and uses it to create something instead of destroy, that is his artwork. It is also worth noting that for his gunpowder series, he isn’t creating through destruction, that is nothing is destroyed to create his artwork, his patterns are created solely through the force of the gunpowder itself, hence the gunpowder is solely creating.

Picture taken from
Patterns and final artwork created from exploding gunpowder.

To me Cai’s works are extremely appealing as every expect of the artwork in itself is an artwork. First would be the medium as mentioned above, using something traditionally associated with destruction for creation. Next would be the process. Cai, would usually with the help of numerous assistants, create large stencils to control the pattern created from his artwork. Next he would spread the gunpowder ( a mix following his own personal recipe) following the stencil and the pattern he had sketched on the canvas prior and then proceed to detonate. To me, the explosions in itself is pretty exciting to watch and Cai does invite the public to view this stage of the creation process and this in itself makes it a performance art in a sense.

(Link is a video showing Cai’s artist process)

Lastly would be the final artwork itself. Cai would usually create swirling patterns or depict something spiritual in the final artwork. He is once again playing with the conflicting ideas of creating something serene and spiritual using the gunpowder.

Picture taken from The ProtectWithPen twitter.

So what  can I learn  from this?

Well obviously I can’t really explode things, BUT I can borrow his artist technique. I really like the idea of using stencils to control the chaos and create patterns. Maybe I can create a stencil and use Jackson Pollock’s drip painting technique to create something.

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