While Cai Guo-Qiang isn’t necessarily a household name, his work is unforgettable. Most of us recall the footprints that mystically lit the sky for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony—Cai is the revolutionary artist we can thank for the display.
This year he comes back to earth, continuing his work in yet another nontraditional form—gunpowder. The process is dynamic: After laying out panels, Cai and a volunteer work crew apply an assorted mix of gunpowder to the panels and then ignite the drawing with a fuse. Various forms of control and a streak of chance cause an explosion that emits the energy and fumes that produce the final work. Visit culturemap.com/series/cais-odyssey for video footage of the artist and his team in action.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), commissioned Cai to create Odyssey, a permanent installation for the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Arts of China Gallery. Visit www.mfah.org for details. —Cherie Haas