Cai Guo-Qiang’s Creative Destruction

From Theme Magazine:

If Cai Guo-Qiang’s return to China is greeted by fireworks, the irony will not be lost on on the New York-based artist. As the artistic director of visual and special effects for the Beijing Olympics, Cai has spent the past two years planning an elaborate pyrotechnic display for the opening and closing ceremonies.

The exact details are a closely guarded secret, but a look at Cai’s past work suggests that it’s sure to be a spectacle—one that will introduce the world to China’s artistic prowess and perhaps, mark an important turning point for the creative mastermind who seemingly turned his back on his home country so many years ago.

Born and raised in China’s Fujian province, Cai grew up surrounded by —a rarity not afforded to many in his rural, impoverished town. But Cai’s father was a noted brush painter and calligrapher and instilled in his son an appreciation for the arts. The young Cai sketched on the school chalkboard in between classes and pored over books that arrived at the bookstore his father ran. He spent hours collecting wildflowers, hiking up the mountains near his home in search of inspiration away from everyday village life. Soon, the boy who loved the ocean, the port, and the boats fell in love with as well and found his own calling to the field.

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