Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder

The Incendiary Chinese Artist Unveils His Spellbinding Practice of Painting with Fireworks

Pyrotechnic savant Cai Guo-Qiang unpacks the metaphysical questions at the heart of his explosive oeuvre for a new film series by fine art visual search engine Art.sy. Director Antony Crook traveled to Los Angeles with his wife, Art.sy Producer and Editor Marina Cashdan, to shadow the Chinese artist as he readied a site-specific installation for his new show at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. “He’s got this dynamic between an intense spirituality and a real childlike nature,” says Cashdan. “Explosions really do fascinate and excite him. There’s this tension between serenity and chaos—that’s what drives him.” Beyond the combustive opening spectacle “Mystery Circle,” which will feature a sea of mini rockets, 100 “UFO” spinners and its very own “alien” onlooker, the Sky Ladder exhibition’s highlights include the mammoth 108-foot-wide “Childhood Spaceship” drawing detailing the artist’s extraterrestrial fascinations. The show marks the West Coast solo debut for New York-based Guo-Qiang, who has shown at institutions including the Guggenheim and Tate Modern, served as curator for China’s 2005 Venice Biennale pavilion, and masterminded the special effects direction for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

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