Past Exhibition

Light Passage - Cai Guo-Qiang & Shiseido

Cai Guo-Qiang, born in China's Fujian province and regarded as one of China's foremost contemporary artists, is known for creating dynamic exploding installations featuring gunpowder (known as one of China's "four great inventions"). He was the producer of the magnificent fireworks finale that closed the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) held in Shanghai in 2001. In 2008, the name Cai Guo-Qiang will become even more well known around the world as he launches a major retrospective exhibition, opening at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York before traveling to China National Museum of Fine Arts in Beijing and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain. Cai will also serve as a visual director for the BEIJING 2008 Olympic Games. Yet even amidst the pressures of preparing for such major events, Cai will also return to Japan, after a five-year hiatus, to exhibit at the Shiseido Gallery.
Shiseido Gallery's relationship with Cai Guo-Qiang dates back to his participation in 1994's Promenade in Asia exhibition, and in the years since that time Shiseido has continued to support his major exhibitions, both in Japan and abroad.
Since its original opening in 1919, the Shiseido Gallery has offered opportunities for up-and-coming artists to present their works and supported the blossoming of artistic talent. In this capacity, the Gallery has proved a wellspring for the emergence of numerous highly talented artists, among whom Cai Guo-Qiang is an important and quintessential example.

  • APEC Cityscape Fireworks, Shanghai, China, 2001
  • Photo by Cai Guo-Qiang,
  • Courtesy of Cai Studio

The title Light Passage comes from a Chinese phrase referring to the passage of time, and it was chosen by Cai himself to incorporate his desire to reflect back upon the relationship that he and the Shiseido Gallery have cultivated over the years. The exhibit will consider the passage of time through four panels, representing the four seasons, upon which Cai has created drawings using his unusual technique of laying down and igniting lines of gunpowder. These will be joined by an installation of golden boats, suspended from the ceiling and flowing from the upper landing down the stairs into the exhibition hall, representing the flow of time. Additionally, a video will also be shown documenting Cai's exhibition history and the role Shiseido has played in supporting him over the years.

  • APEC Ode to Joy, 2002
  • Photo by Shize Chen, Courtesy of Cai Studio
  • 99 Golden Boats, Suzhou Museum, China, 2006
  • Photo by Tatsumi Masatoshi, Courtesy of Cai Studio

Exhibition Details for Light Passage - Cai Guo-Qiang & Shiseido

Dates: June 23 (Sat) - August 12 (Sun)
Location: Shiseido Gallery
Tokyo Ginza Shiseido Bldg., B1
8-8-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Tel: 03-3572-3901 Fax: 03-3572-3951
Hours: Weekdays 11:00 - 19:00
Sundays & Holidays 11:00 - 18:00
Closed Mondays
Admission: Free
Supported by: Embassy of the People's Republic of China, Culture Section, Tokyo
Cooperated by: Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., and BankART 1929

Cai Guo-Qiang Profile

  • Fetus Movement II: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 9
    June 27,1992. 9:40 p.m.
    (duration: 00:00:09)
    15,000 sq. m (161,460 sq. ft.)
    Bundeswehr-Wasser Ubungsplatz military base.
    Hannover Munden, Germany
    Ephemeral Artwork
    Commissioned by
    The Kassel International Art Exhibition
    Video footage by Takahisa Araki,
    Courtesy of Cai Studio

Born in 1957 in China's Fujian Province, Cai Guo-Qiang first studied stage design at the Shanghai Drama Institute. After graduation, he went to Japan in 1986 and eventually spent the years 1989 through 1991 studying at Tsukuba University. In 1995 he relocated to New York.
At the Kassel International Art Exhibition in 1992, Cai garnered recognition for a literally earthshaking work that involved the use of large-scale explosives. This he followed by a number of dynamic installation projects in many countries in the world featuring exploding gunpowder, including his fleeting "Project to Extend the Great Wall of China by 10,000 Meters" (1993, Jiayuguan, China). Besides these more "explosive" gunpowder works, he is also known for his broad style that includes motifs from Chinese medicine, feng shui, the symbological dragons, and other elements of traditional Chinese culture. As an internationally acclaimed artist he has earned a number of prestigious accolades, including "The Venice Biennial International Prize- Golden Lion" at the Venice Biennale in 1999 and the Alpert Award in the Arts in 2001. His activities are wide ranging, and in addition to his art projects he is known as the producer of the fireworks display that marked the conclusion of the 2001 Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in Shanghai, and he will serve as the visual director for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

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