Cai Guo-Qiang has literally exploded the accepted parameters of art making in our time. Drawing freely from ancient mythology, military history, Taoist cosmology, extraterrestrial observations, Maoist revolutionary tactics, Buddhist philosophy, gunpowder-related technology, Chinese medicine, and methods of terrorist violence, Cai’s art is a form of social energy, constantly mutable, linking what he refers to as “the seen and unseen worlds.” This retrospective presents the full spectrum of the artist’s protean, multimedia art in all its conceptual complexity.
Designed by the artist as a site-specific installation, the Guggenheim’s exhibition presents art as a process that unfolds in time and space, dealing with ideas of transformation, expenditure of materials, and connectivity. The structure of Cai’s art forms are inherently unstable, but his social idealism characterizes all change, however violent, as carrying the seeds of positive creation. Subverting tropes such as East versus West, traditional versus contemporary, center versus periphery, Cai offers a new cultural paradigm for the art of a global age and expands the meaning of the phrase “I want to believe.”