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Exhibition in Tokyo by Cai Guo-Qiang: "Ramble in the Cosmos ― From Primeval Fireball Onward"

On June 29, 2023, The National Art Center, Tokyo, in collaboration with Yves Saint Laurent, will inaugurate a momentous solo exhibition of Cai Guo-Qiang, a contemporary artist who has garnered global acclaim and attention. The exhibition, titled “Cai Guo-Qiang: Ramble in the Cosmos―From Primeval Fireball Onward”, has been meticulously curated by the passionate efforts of the Center's Director, Ms. Eriko Osaka.

Cai Guo-Qiang

Born in China in 1957, Cai Guo-Qiang moved to Japan in 1986. Over the next nine years, he developed a distinctive style using gunpowder. His artworks are deeply rooted in Eastern classical philosophy and thought, reflecting his fascination with the cosmos and the unseen world, often in connection with Feng Shui and astrology. Moreover, Cai’s works incorporate sensitivities towards the advancements in science and technology and contemporary societal issues. It’s noteworthy that his elaborate projects, which include gunpowder drawings, installations, and outdoor explosion events, cleverly employ gunpowder to depict a mythological and anthropological grandeur. These have won him global praise.

In 1991, his exhibition “Primeval Fireball - The Project for Projects” was held at P3 art and environment in Tokyo. As one of his early shows in Japan, it was a symbolic showcase in his artistic career. The centerpiece of the exhibition, an installation of the same name, featured seven gunpowder drawings on folding screens arranged radially, symbolizing messages he wished to convey "to extraterrestrial beings" and "to humanity." The term “Primeval Fireball” references the beginning of the universe, combining cosmological physics with Laozi's theories on cosmic origins.

“Ramble in the Cosmos―From Primeval Fireball Onward”, this exhibition, posits the "Primeval Fireball" of 30 years ago as the 'Big Bang' in his artistry, embarking on an epic journey exploring how it was born and evolved. His creative endeavors in China, the time he forged his artistic identity in Japan, and his activities on the international stage will be represented through works themed on dialogues with the cosmos and the invisible world.

The National Art Center’s 2,000-square-meter Special Exhibition Gallery 1E offers a sense of openness akin to being in a plaza. In this space, the historic “Primeval Fireball” installation will be recreated along with the display of three new gunpowder paintings. In an adjacent area, a large-scale kinetic light installation titled “Encounter with the Unknown” employing LEDs will be exhibited, allowing visitors to freely walk through and experience. About 50 works, including pieces from the National Art Center’s collection, are planned to be displayed. This exhibition aims to invite visitors on a creative journey imbued with Cai’s profound insights and intricate thoughts.

Eriko Osaka, who curated the exhibition, commented, “Mr. Cai’s works explore contrasting elements that transcend time and space, capturing destruction and creation, stillness and movement, the invisible and visible, chaos and order, and birth and death. They offer us profound insights into a cosmic perspective and the essence of existence.” On the other hand, Cai himself has said, “Returning to the spirit of the ‘Primeval Fireball’ 30 years ago is a reunion with oneself, a homecoming to the cosmos.”

Through this exhibition, visitors can embark on a journey deeply exploring the mysteries of art and the cosmos while engaging with the creative spirit of Cai Guo-Qiang.



June 29, 2023 (Thursday) - August 21, 2023 (Monday)

Closed every Tuesday

Opening Hours

10:00 am - 6:00 pm

(*Open until 8:00 pm every Friday and Saturday)

(*Last admission is 30 minutes before closing)


The National Art Center, Tokyo

7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8558, Japan

Postal Code: 106-8558


The National Art Center, Tokyo

Yves Saint Laurent


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