Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China. He currently lives and works in New York.
His work crosses multiple mediums within art, including drawing, installation, video and performance art. While living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, he explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, an inquiry that eventually led to his experimentation with explosives on a massive scale and to the development of his signature explosion events. Drawing upon Eastern philosophy and contemporary social issues as a conceptual basis, these projects and events aim to establish an exchange between viewers and the larger universe around them, utilizing a site-specific approach to culture and history.
Over the past thirty years, Cai Guo-Qiang has realized large-scale exhibitions and projects across different geographic locations and cultures. Activities in recent years include: solo exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: Saraab at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar (2011), Cai Guo-Qiang - 1040M Underground in Donetsk, Ukraine (2011), One Night Stand, explosion event on Seine for Nuit Blanche in Paris, France (2013). His 2008 retrospective exhibition I Want to Believe broke attendance records of visual art exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. In the same year, he served as Director of Visual and Special Effects for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in Beijing. In 2013, his solo exhibition Da Vincis do Povo in Brazil went on a three-city tour around the country and was the most visited exhibition by a living artist worldwide that year with over one million visitors.
Cai was awarded the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, and the Praemium Imperiale in 2012. He was among the five artists honored with the first U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts award in 2012. He has recently been awarded the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Award in 2015, and the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA) and Asia Arts Awards in 2016.