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Cai Guo-Qiang and Lesley Ma - An Artist Dialogue

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October 30, 2012

Program Locations:

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Margaret Liebman Berger Forum

FREE - Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

World-renowned artist Cai Guo-Qiang discusses his fascinating new book, Ladder to the Sky. He is joined by art historian and former project director at Cai Studio Lesley Ma for an in-depth conversation, audience Q&A, and book signing.

Featuring stunning, never-before-published works, Cai Guo-Qiang: Ladder to the Sky is the most intimate book to date on the renowned Chinese artist. Produced in close collaboration with him, this volume documents new projects commissioned for The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, alongside Cai Guo-Qiang’s own survey of his artistic journey and the personal cosmology that informs his work. It features a rich sampling of Cai’s wonderfully diverse oeuvre, including explosion events, gunpowder drawings, and installations. Informative essays and a conversation with the artist explore Cai’s influences, from traditional Chinese scrolls and his father’s miniature paintings to Asian philosophy and memories of his grandmother. Including new works and unprecedented contributions by the artist himself, this book is an important reference on Cai’s art for years to come. It is published to coincide with a major exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Shadows created by stencil for gunpowder drawing Chaos in Nature, Los Angeles, 2012. Photo by Joshua White/JWPictures.com, courtesy The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.Shadows created by stencil for gunpowder drawing Chaos in Nature, Los Angeles, 2012. Photo by Joshua White/JWPictures.com, courtesy The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Copies of the book are available for purchase and signing at the event.

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China. Trained in stage design at the Shanghai Theater Academy, his work has since crossed multiple mediums within art, including drawing, installation, video and performance. While living in Japan from 1986 to 1995, he explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, an inquiry that eventually led to his experimentation with explosives on a massive scale and to the development of his signature explosion events. Drawing upon Eastern philosophy and contemporary social issues as a conceptual basis, these projects aim to establish an exchange between viewers and the larger universe around them, utilizing a site-specific approach to culture and history. Cai was awarded the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, the 7th Hiroshima Art Prize in 2007, and the 20th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2009. He also served as Director of Visual and Special Effects for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. His first ever solo exhibition in a Middle Eastern country, Cai Guo-Qiang: Saraab opened in December 2011 in Doha, Qatar. In spring 2012, the artist appeared in two solo exhibitions: Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) and Cai Guo-Qiang: Spring (Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou, China). He currently lives and works in New York. 

Mystery Circle explosion event, realized on site at The Geffen Contemporary, MOCA, Los Angeles, 2012. Photo by Zen Sekizawa/JWPictures.com, courtesy The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.Mystery Circle explosion event, realized on site at The Geffen Contemporary, MOCA, Los Angeles, 2012. Photo by Zen Sekizawa/JWPictures.com, courtesy The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Lesley Ma was curatorial coordinator for the exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She is a PhD candidate in art history, theory, and criticism at the University of California, San Diego. Her dissertation focuses on abstract painting in postwar Taiwan. A project director at Cai Studio in New York from 2005 to 2009, she is an editor of the journal Lovely Daze and a contributor to Art Collection + Design, Chuan Art Journal, and Asia Art Archive-America. Ma received her BA in history and science from Harvard College and an MA in museum studies from New York University.

Initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni in 2004, Artist Dialogues Series provide an open forum for understanding and appreciation of contemporary art. Artists are paired with critics, curators, gallerists, writers or other artists to converse about art and the potential of exploring new ideas.

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