Renowned for his signature gunpowder paintings and massive firework displays, New York-based contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang will be livestreaming a new explosive firework event on September 25 (scroll to the bottom of this post for a video of the show).
Inspired by Nietzsche’s iconic work, The Birth of Tragedy, the 15-minute event will take place in three acts to “honor the eternal cycle of creation and destruction and the human spirit that, while acknowledging pain, nonetheless embraces and rejoices in life, in harmony with nature.”
Served as part of the celebration of French cognac brand Hennessy X.O’s 150th anniversary, the epic show will feature 20,000 fireworks set off from 150 floating oak barrels placed on the Charente River.
While the globe is still dealing with the outbreak of Covid-19, Cai hopes the event will act as an uplifting reminder for people worldwide to stay optimistic. “While the fireworks express my contemplation on tragedy, art, and the essence of life, I hope the audience will draw inspiration from the fireworks in order to reconcile with nature and find the power to heal,” he says.
According to the same announcement, non-toxic and CE-certified environmentally friendly products will be used for the event.
Born in Quanzhou in southern Fujian province, Cai is one of the most internationally acclaimed Chinese artists working today. Drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese art forms and materials, his work spans drawings, installations, and performance art, using materials such as gunpowder and fireworks. His work often reflects on Chinese history and philosophy in addition to making a powerful statement on social issues.
Watch: Cai Guo-Qiang Paints Firework “Flowers in the Sky” Over Florence
Currently living and working in New York City, Cai was most recently featured in the exhibition Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection at New York’s Guggenheim Museum with five other artists, and a firework show for China’s 70th National Day Celebration in 2019. He is also known for his work during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where he acted as Director of Visual and Special Effects.
Watch the livestream from 3:00 PM French time (or 9:00 PM Beijing standard time) on Hennessy’s website, Tencent, Facebook, and YouTube.
UPDATE: You can now watch the livestream back below; skip to 2:30 to avoid the Hennessy commercial and to around 12 minutes in if you want to blow past the backstory and just get to the fireworks.
Cover image: Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Elegy” in Shanghai, 2014
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