I first heard about Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang from the documentary about his artwork made from gunpowder explosions and his quest to make a 1,650-foot ladder of fire rising into the sky held aloft by a giant balloon.
The National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT) is currently hosting an exhibition of his work in partnership with luxury fashion house Saint Laurent.
Prior to the new exhibition opening, Cai orchestrated When the Sky Blooms with Sakura a daytime fireworks event at Yotsukura Beach in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, a place he has a special relationship with having lived in Japan from 1986 to 1995.
Mankind today is facing various challenges such as coexisting with the pandemic, economic decline, de-globalization, and increased national and cultural conflicts. Through the sakura in the sky, I was expressing the story of the friendship between the people of Iwaki and me, which transcends politics and history.Cai Guo-Qiang
Sprawling black and blue waves hinted at the pain of past disasters like the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, plumes of white symbolised mourning for wars and the pandemic and pink sakura clouds nodded at a brighter future where devastation has been overcome.
Although I didn’t witness it in person myself, I found the bold colours and explosive percussion of the fireworks extremely captivating and unexpected. I was also enamoured by the creative use of drones to capture the occasion.
Cai was born in Quanzhou, China which by chance I visited earlier in the year and will explore in an upcoming post.