Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting

Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting


Cai Guo-Qiang with Ascending Dragon Project for Extraterrestrials No. 2, Japan, 1989. Courtesy of Cai Studio.

September 22, 2016
Cai Guo-Qiang
My Stories of Painting
September 30, 2016–May 1, 2017
Avenue Ceramique 250
6221 BS Maastricht
The Netherlands
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On September 29, the Bonnefantenmuseum will present the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art 2016 (BACA) to Cai Guo-Qiang (1957, Quanzhou, Fujian, China). This will also mark the opening of the artist’s first solo exhibition in the Netherlands, My Stories of Painting.

Since its founding in 2000, the biennial BACA has been the most important award for international contemporary art in the Netherlands. Cai Guo-Qiang was awarded the BACA 2016 by a unanimous vote of the international selection committee, comprised of Cao Fei (artist), Stijn Huijts (Bonnefantenmuseum director), William Lim (architect, collector), Carol Lu (curator, writer), Lars Nittve (former director M+ Museum Hong Kong, founding director of Tate Modern, London) and Uli Sigg (collector). Previous winners of the BACA are Eija-Liisa Ahtila (2000), Neo Rauch (2002), Pawel Althamer (2004), Bethan Huws (2006), John Baldessari (2008), Francis Alÿs (2010), Mary Heilmann (2012) and Laura Lima (2014).

Cai Guo-Qiang is renowned for his large-scale outdoor explosion events and visually spectacular installations, which have received most attention within his body of works. My Stories of Painting is the first exhibition that will focus on his long journey of painting in terms of two parallel paths.

The first traces his decades of restless exploration in painting, presenting over 100 works from different periods, of varying scale, and through various media shown to the public for the first time. The trajectory begins with his time in China: watercolours and oil paintings, assignments from his student days, experimental paintings, and oil paintings with gunpowder; followed by his time in Japan: paintings created purely with gunpowder, and gunpowder drawings for explosion events; it then moves on to his time in New York and the vast global stage—paintings reflecting his unique challenge to the issue of painting through his consistent artistic methodology, including recent pieces following his return to creating independent gunpowder paintings in the past few years. Evolving from black gunpowder to color gunpowder, this new stage registers the artist’s unrestrained pursuit of his childhood dream to become a painter, as well as his confrontation with the integral challenges of contemporary painting.

The second path along which the exhibition examines Cai’s journey of painting is that of his family: his grandmother, parents, wife, and daughters. Through their paintings, photography, and other works, viewers can see how generation after generation, the artist’s family accompanies and mutually influences Cai.

The BACA and Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting receive generous support from the Province of Limburg, DSM, the Bankgiro Loterij, the Mondriaan Fund, the VSBFonds, the municipality of Maastricht and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.

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September 22, 2016

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