Back in 2009 the Philadelphia Museum of Art commissioned Cai Guo-Qiang to create an explosive event tailored specifically for their site along the museum’s front facade.
The artist titled his project Fallen Blossoms, and made use of metal netting, scaffolding, and a gunpowder fuse to create the blossom pattern that lit up the building’s columns for 60 seconds of dazzling beauty. The flower’s fuse was lit at sunset on December 11th to the delight of a large audience at an event titled after a classic Chinese Proverb.
The corresponding exhibition also bore the name “hua kai hua luo” which is a saying that comments on the feeling of extreme loss that accompanies a life that meets an unexpected demise. This was meant to dedicate the title and event in tribute to Anne d’Harnoncourt, the late director of the museum.
Right now Guo-Qiang is residing and making his work in New York, but the artist’s birthplace was in China and that’s where he trained in stage design. Not content to be limited to one type of artistic medium, he works in a combination of drawing, video, performance art, and installation. His experience in explosive events on a large scale began during a nine year stint in Japan when he started to explore using gunpowder as an element in his work.
Guo-Qiang’s artistic work is perhaps most known for having been the Special Effects Director for the ceremonies for both the opening and the closing of the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008.