Cai Guo-Qiang Blows Up Pompeii

Cai Gao Qiang is an international artist who was born China who now lives in the USA where his art draws in influences from eastern philosophy and today’s social issues to create some of the most striking works in the art world.

Cai has always featured gunpowder in much of his art, so when the chance to work again with his favourite medium, the race was on.

In early Spring 2019, he visited the site of one of the biggest volcanic eruptions to ever take place in Europe; Pompeii.  The eruption, which is still detailed as one of the most catastrophic of all time, took place on 24th August in the year 79AD, spewing molten rock, clouds of stones, ash, and gases into the air, releasing thermal energy equivalent to 100,000 times that contained within the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Excavation of the site

The site of the art installation was the amphitheatre of Pompeii entitled ‘Explosion Studio’ and the event started out with small explosive bursts which filled the cold air of the amphitheatre with clouds of grey/pink smoke as the skies were once again alight but at least this time it was with gunpowder.

This piece is a part of Cai’s ‘An Individual’s Journey Through Western Art History’ features a 108-foot piece of canvas which is surrounded by towering reproduction statues of the Gods including Hercules and Venus.  He used explosives and multi-hued gunpowder which he then lit, leaving the area engulfed in ash and smoke.  The reason for choosing the amphitheatre is also to show the rich former history of the place, particularly in relation to the gladiatorial and venationes (animal hunts).

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