This summer, the Yokohama Museum of Art presents New York-based artist Cai Guo-Qiang (b.1957, Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China) in his first large-scale solo exhibition in Japan since 2008. Drawing its title from Tao Yuanming's famous poem “The Return,” this solo exhibition evokes a homecoming to Japan, where Cai's artistic path first took shape. The exhibition includes newly commissioned large-scale gunpowder paintings on paper and canvas.
For this exhibition, Cai produced his largest gunpowder painting to date, Nighttime Sakura. Measuring 8 x 24 meters in size, it is installed in the entrance hall of the museum and depicts the Japanese popular motif of the cherry blossom.
In Seasons of Life, a series of gunpowder paintings on canvas, Cai returned to experimenting with daytime fireworks, which he first took up in the 1990s while residing in Japan. The series is inspired by the work of shunga artist Tsukioka Settei and depicts the transition in the seasons and the love life of a couple.
The exhibition also includes Morning Glory, an elegant installation suspended from the gallery ceiling. To create this work, the artist invited students from the Yokohama College of Art and Design to model 600 Japanese morning glories out of terracotta.
There and Back Again marks the launch of Art Island, an online art and educational game platform conceived by Cai with the long-term goal of fostering creativity, mutual understanding and peace in the East Asian region. With this game, children will be able to create, collaborate and exchange ideas within the game's virtual workshops. The Fireworks Workshop and Robot Workshop in particular are based respectively on Cai's signature medium and his iconic travelling exhibition Peasant da Vincis. As the game continues to develop, prominent artists, designers and architects from East Asia will be invited to create additional workshops for Art Island.
In addition to these new commissions, Head On (2006), a large-scale installation of 99 life-size replicas of wolves, and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter (2014), a four-panel installation of gunpowder on porcelain, are on view for the first time in Japan.
The exhibition catalog includes images of the creation process and installation views of the exhibition as well as the Japanese edition of Ninety-Nine Tales: Curious Stories from My Journey through the Real and Unseen Worlds, a collection of short autobiographical essays originally written in Chinese by Cai. The catalog will be on sale in late July at the museum shop, as well as at general bookstores and online shops in Japan.
Curated by: Eriko Osaka (Director, Yokohama Museum of Art)
Co-curators: Hideko Numata, Naoaki Nakamura, Eriko Kimura (Yokohama Museum of Art)
Coordinator: Aya Tanaka