loading video...

japan's first daytime fireworks by cai guo-qiang & saint laurent cast bold hues in the sky

when the sky blooms with sakura is a tribute to lost souls 

 

Renowned contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang set off the first daytime fireworks in Japan, along the Iwaki coastline in Fukushima. Commissioned by Anthony Vaccarello for French fashion house Saint Laurent, the artwork entitled When the Sky Blooms with Sakura, set off about 40,000 fireworks in tribute to those who lost their lives in tragedies, including the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and three-year-long Coronavirus pandemic that ruthlessly claimed millions of souls worldwide. ‘Informed by the ethos of Eastern philosophy where rebirth is attained through transcending trauma, [the artwork] aspires to bolster the resilient human spirit in the face of global adversity, conveying a message of hope and renaissance,’ shares Saint Laurent. 

japan's first daytime fireworks by cai guo-qiang & saint laurent cast bold hues in the sky
image courtesy Saint Laurent and Cai Studio

 

 

a captivating visual sequence by Cai Guo-Qiang for saint laurent

 

Launched in three visual sequences, When the Sky Blooms with Sakura unfolded as a captivatingly explosive, yet poetic, orchestra of smoky shapes. The explosions were carefully arranged to compose different pictures, like 12 white chrysanthemums and blue waves symbolizing a tsunami. Cai Guo-Qiang (see more here) then launched fireworks high into the sky, forming pink and orange bursts evoking cherry blossom trees that spanned 400 meters along the Iwaki coastline. 

 

This deeply emotional and commemorative commission from Saint Laurent (see more here) ultimately holds a special place in the artist’s heart. From 1986 to 1994, Cai Guo-Qiang resided and worked in Japan, including Iwaki. Even after relocating to the United States, he kept in touch with the people he met there. Guo-Qiang even initiated a collaborative effort to plant 99,000 cherry blossom trees in the city outskirts following the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami. 

japan's first daytime fireworks by cai guo-qiang & saint laurent cast bold hues in the sky
image courtesy Saint Laurent and Cai Studio

 

 

live-streaming japan’s daytime fireworks across the globe

 

On June 29, 2023, at 8 pm, the daytime fireworks that ignited along the Japanese coast were live-streamed on Saint Laurent’s website and broadcasted worldwide through various physical and digital platforms. These platforms included LED billboard screens, each enlivening urban centers across the world. When the Sky Blooms with Sakura was streamed at Times Square in New York City, Piccadilly in London, The Grand Gateway in Shanghai, Shamao in Chengdu, and Shinjuku and Harajuku in Tokyo. 

japan's first daytime fireworks by cai guo-qiang & saint laurent cast bold hues in the sky
image courtesy Saint Laurent and Cai Studio

ysl-cai-studio-designboom-full-4

image courtesy Saint Laurent and Cai Studio

japan's first daytime fireworks by cai guo-qiang & saint laurent cast bold hues in the sky
image courtesy Saint Laurent and Cai Studio

japan's first daytime fireworks by cai guo-qiang & saint laurent cast bold hues in the sky
image courtesy Saint Laurent and Cai Studio

ysl-cai-studio-designboom-full-5

image courtesy Saint Laurent and Cai Studio

japan's first daytime fireworks by cai guo-qiang & saint laurent cast bold hues in the sky
image courtesy Cai Guo-Qiang

 

 

Ramble in the Cosmos―From Primeval Fireball Onward at nact

 

When the Sky Blooms with Sakura served as a pre-launch for Cai Guo-Qiang’s solo exhibition, Ramble in the Cosmos―From Primeval Fireball Onward, currently held at the National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT). The exhibition, co-organized by NACT and Saint Laurent, opened to the public on June 29, 2023, tracing the artist’s fascinating career from the 1980s onward. 

 

Born in China in 1957, Cai Guo-Qiang moved to Japan in 1986, spending nine years before later moving to the United States in 1995. During his time in the Far East, he developed a unique artistic style using gunpowder, which propelled him to global recognition. Inspired by the mysteries of the universe, feng shui, and ancient Eastern philosophies, as well as modern science and technology, his work reflects contemporary social issues. Through large-scale paintings, installations, and explosive outdoor events, the artists creates a captivating blend of mythology and anthropology.

japan's first daytime fireworks by cai guo-qiang & saint laurent cast bold hues in the sky
Cai Guo-Qiang, Primeval Fireball: The Project for Projects. Installation view at P3 art and environment, Tokyo, (1991) | image © Yoshihiro Hagiwara, courtesy Cai Studio

 

 

Cai Guo-Qiang’s artistic evolution from the 1980s onward

 

In 1991, the artist held a groundbreaking solo exhibition in Tokyo: Primeval Fireball: The Project for Projects. This exhibition was a milestone in his artistic career and served as a starting point for his ambitious Projects for Extraterrestrials and Projects for Humankind. It featured an installation resembling a blast wave, symbolizing his artistic ‘Big Bang’ and drawing inspiration from both astrophysics and Laozi’s concept of the universe’s origin. His current show at NACT builds upon the significance of the Primeval Fireball exhibition.

 

The exhibition will trace the evolution of his art by posing two key questions: what initiated the ‘Big Bang’ and what has unfolded since then? Cai Guo-Qiang’s exploration of the universe and hidden realms is a central theme, presented through his early works from China, his formative years in Japan, his later works in the United States, and his global journey.

japan's first daytime fireworks by cai guo-qiang & saint laurent cast bold hues in the sky
setting up the exhibition at NACT | image courtesy Cai Studio

 

To accommodate the artist’s decades-long creations, NACT’s 2,000-square-meter gallery transformed into an open space resembling a public square. It features a re-creation of the historic Primeval Fireball screen painting installation, showcasing new glass and mirror paintings. Another highlight is the expansive and dynamic LED installation, Encounter with the Unknown. Visitors can freely wander through these works. Around fifty artworks from major Japanese public art museums and Cai Guo-Qiang’s personal collection will be on display. Rare archival materials, documentary videos, and first-person perspective wall text will enhance the exhibition. Overall, the show unfolds as an immersive experience, offering a glimpse into the artist’s profound artistic journey.

 

ysl-cai-studio-designboom-full-6

Cai Guo-Qiang at his NACT exhibition | image courtesy Cai Studio

KEEP UP WITH OUR DAILY AND WEEKLY NEWSLETTERS
suscribe on designboom
- see sample
- see sample
suscribe on designboom
happening now! AXOR makes individual luxury a reality in the bathroom, and reveals its citterio C collection by antonio citterio.

cai guo qiang (29)

exhibition design (561)

fireworks (5)

saint laurent (11)

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999
X
5