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For a man who's literally blowing up our conception of what art can be, Cai Guo-Qiang started as just a pyro in a small city in China.

Cai grew up in Mao Zedong’s China. His father was a Communist Party member who worked in a bookstore and never brought any money home to his family. He spent everything he made on books. He claimed that books were his fortune and one day, they would be Cai’s as well. This of course was a bit rough because they, like, needed to eat and whatnot but working in the bookstore allowed him to provide officials and Cai with banned books, which was chill. They got to read things like “Death of a Salesman” and “Waiting for Godot” when the rest of China was reading, well, nothing. Unfortunately, during the Cultural Revolution in China, they were forced to burn every last one of their books. Even more unthinkable than that they had to eat the family dog to keep from starving. They were not in a position to pass up meat no matter how much you loved it. Poor little pupper. But such was life in Mao’s China so we can’t judge.

Cai’s troubled past soon led him to stardom but in a different field than you think. He was first in two martial arts films, “The Spring and Fall of a Small Town” and “Real Kung Fu of Shaolin.” But this did not change how over China Cai was, so he and his wife Hong packed up headed to Japan. This is where Cai develops his artistic style using gunpowder, an invention of the Chinese people. He basically would strategically place gunpowder on a canvas and then blow it up, leaving burn marks that look like a painting. He also created environmentally friendly firework shows like the world had never seen. Needless to say, his work is fire.

Cai Guo-Qing has been involved in some of the most badass art events ever. He designed a firework show for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, won the 48th Venice Biennale International Golden Lion Prize and 2001 CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts. But his reigning glory as an artist was Sky Ladder, a 50 meter tall, firework ladder that took 4 tries and 21 years to complete. Cai Guo-Qiang is living proof that blowing sh*t up can be used for good instead of evil.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang (Chinese: 蔡国强; born 8 December 1957) is a Chinese artist.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Cai Guo-Qiang