Cai Guo-Qiang : My Stories of Painting
BACA 2016

On 29 September 2016, the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art 2016 (BACA) was awarded to Cai Guo-Qiang (1957, Quanzhou, Fujian, China). The BACA is the most important award for international visual art in the Netherlands. The award was presented for the ninth time this year. Consisting of a sum of 50,000 Euros, a publication and a solo exhibition, the Award is a tribute to a living non-Western artist with an exceptional oeuvre and a demonstrable influence on other artists, exhibition makers and art professionals.


Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting
My Stories of Painting is the first exhibition that will focus on Cai's long journey of painting in terms of two parallel paths. The first traces his decades of restless exploration in painting, presenting over a hundred works from different periods, of varying scale, and across various mediums — many of which are shown for the first time.

The trajectory begins with his time in China: watercolours and oil paintings, assignments from his student days, experimental paintings, and oil paintings with gunpowder; followed by his time in Japan: paintings created purely with gunpowder, and gunpowder drawings for explosion events; it then moves on to his time in New York and the vast global stage — paintings reflecting his unique challenge to the issue of painting through his consistent artistic methodology, including recent pieces following his return to creating independent gunpowder paintings in the past few years.

The second path is that of his family: his grandmother, parents, wife, and daughters. Through their paintings, photography, and other works, be it professional or amateur, realist or amorphous, viewers can see how generation after generation, the artist's family accompanies and mutually influences Cai. They will be able to appreciate the exhibition's scholarly consideration of the artist's paintings, in addition to experiencing the tender and intimate as well as bitter and arduous sides of a painter's journey.

About the artist Cai Guo-Qiang
Cai Guo-Qiang was born in Quanzhou City, China in 1957. He now lives and works in New York. Cai has worked in multiple mediums within art, including drawing, installation, video and performance art. Drawing upon Eastern philosophy and contemporary social issues as a conceptual basis, these site-specific projects and events interpret and respond to local culture and history. His well-known gunpowder explosions and large-scale installations are full of life and explosive energy — they surpass the two-dimensional and move freely from indoor spaces to the society and nature outside.


Over the past thirty years, Cai's art has left its mark in various cultural spheres across five continents. Cai was also the curator of the first China Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005) and has served as Director of Visual and Special Effects for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA) 2016
In presenting the exhibition and publication by BACA laureate Cai Guo-Qiang, the Bonnefantenmuseum is once again drawing attention to an exceptional and influential oeuvre within contemporary art and introducing the public to a relevant, yet for many people an unfamiliar chapter of art history. Cai Guo-Qiang was awarded the BACA 2016 by a unanimous vote. The international selection committee for 2016 comprised of Cao Fei (artist), Stijn Huijts (Bonnefantenmuseum director), William Lim (architect, collector), Carol Lu (curator, writer), Lars Nittve (former director M+ Museum Hong Kong) and Uli Sigg (collector). The BACA was previously awarded to Eija-Liisa Ahtila (2000), Neo Rauch (2002), Pawel Althamer (2004), Bethan Huws (2006), John Baldessari (2008), Francis Alÿs (2010), Mary Heilmann (2012) and Laura Lima (2014).

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