In mid-May, on IZOLYATSIA\\'s invitation, Cai Guo-Qiang and his team made a visit to Ukraine. For the past twenty years, Cai has worked on site-specific projects in the most diverse places around the globe from Mexico to China to Poland and France, and he is one of the few Asian artists to have become a holder of the Golden Lion Prize prior to the Chinese art-boom. During his visit to Ukraine, Cai showed a great interest in the formation of the country\\'s cultural identity.
Cai Guo-Qiang had a very dense schedule during his brief but fruitful stay. He visited a coal-mine, where he descended 1000 meters under the ground, got to know the IZOLYATSIA team, walked around the streets of Donetsk, and climbed the IZOLYATSIA terrekon to get a panorama view of the industrial kingdom, which surrounds the art-centre.
The artist did not waste any words. He spoke in a very soft and measured manner. When asked questions about his work, he enthusiastically gave succinct answers, immediately retracting back into his thoughts. Those who had an opportunity to talk to him even if for a couple of minutes, could not but fall for Cai’s respectful modesty, earnest disposition and understated eccentricity.
About the artist: Cai Guo-Qiang (蔡國強) was born in 1957 in the city of Quanzhou, Fujian province of China. He studied stage design at the Shanghai Theatre Academy.
In 1984, still in China, Cai began experimenting with gunpowder, which he continued when living in Japan between 1986 and 1995. His work is focused on gunpowder drawings, explosion projects and large scale installations. One of the most renowned projects is considered to be the Project to Extend the Great Wall of China by 10,000 Meters: Project for Extraterrestrial No. 10 (1993), in which a wall of fire and light in the Gobi Desert extends the Great Wall of China by 10 kilometres.
At the 48th Venice Biennale, Cai presented the Rent Collection Courtyard (1999), for which he received the Golden Lion Prize. Under the guidance of Cai, a group of sculptors created 81 sculptures in real-time, with the creator of the original sculpture, whose work from the 1960s the sculptors were replicating, present as one of the participants. Some of the sculptures were not completed and all were left to decay. The artist\\'s intention was to show sculptors in the process of creation, as opposed to just presenting the finished product, and to simultaneously portray the effect that passage of time has on man-made objects.
Despite the fact that since 1995 the artist lives and works in New York City, Cai’s connection to the cultural roots of his homeland is a striking feature in all of his work. His extensive use of gunpowder is a reference to one of the oldest practices of the Chinese tradition.
In 2008 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York New York organised a retrospective Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe, which then traveled to the National Art Museum of China in Beijing and to the Guggenheim in Bilbao.