Cai Guo-Qiang, the “Explosives Artist”

From large-scale gunpowder drawings to public spectacle explosives, it seems a trail of black dust follows “explosives artist” Cai Guo-Qiang everywhere he goes. Trace it back and you’ll find three decades filled with fire, from Cai’s first gunpowder drawings in 1986 to the moment his footprint-shaped fireworks lit the sky at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. “Using gunpowder as a medium brings me closer to nature and even the universe,” Cai told Artsy in a film documenting the gunpowder drawings he made for MOCA Los Angeles in April, 2012. Learn more about his process in our film at right (you’ll see Cai sprinkle explosives across a giant sheet of paper, then ignite) and explore “Da Vincis do Povo” on Artsy to see gunpowder drawings from Cai’s current exhibition in Brazil, evoking samba dancers, carnivals, and Brazilian birds in his signature incinerations.

Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Peasant Da Vincis (Da Vincis do Povo)” is on view in Rio De Janeiro at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil and Museu Nacional dos Correios through September 23, 2013.

Explore the exhibition on Artsy.