This is one my all time favorite artist.
Using Nature as theme he create a palatable beautiful amount of tension in this work. Creation living along side destruction and unbridled instincts existing together. The closest permanent instillation to a Portland dwellers is at the Seattle Art Museum, where he installed full size "exploding" firework white Fords.
What follow are images form his new show and an essay a wrote when I first saw his work in collage.
Constant Complicated Time of Destruction and Creation
“We live in complicated times.” is the opening statement made in the promotional brochure for the work of Cai Guo-Qiang showing at Site Santa Fe. However, this work entitled ‘Inopportune’ is not necessarily about this general cliché statement. Cai Guo-Qiang’s artwork including the use of scale, material and subject matter speaks profoundly more to the idea that destruction is creative and beautiful.
Material is one of the strongest aspects of Cai’s work that resonates with the ideas of positive destruction. He works with fireworks, the quintessential controlled explosion made to invoke beauty and celebration. Cai paints the sky with choreographed firework displays, films a car being destroyed by colorful explosives, and most astounding Cai gives the viewer lasting evidence that these highly temporal explosives can create lasting images with his gunpowder drawings on Japanese rice paper. Had these “drawings” been made by any other means they would never capture the power of ethereal destruction, an act of explosion that is impermanent and performance based.
He also employs a thematic use of subject matter in ‘Inopportune’. Images tigers and car are repeated over and over in Cai’s work. The tigers call up references to exotic myths and heroism, a glorified destruction, while cars reference the true life of destruction on a daily bases: car bombs car crashes. The use of tigers was an extremely eloquent choice to show the beauty of a certain kind of destruction, hunting, and an extension. Had Cai use the human body, for example, instead of tigers the viewer would have been far less involved. We are desensitized to that type of imagery and most of us can feel stronger compassion for an endangered species. The car imagery installs in the viewer a more threatening since of destruction as if a car bombing could happen to you.