Cai Guo-Qiang's choice of gunpowder and fireworks as materials for his artwork stems from his childhood in China, where fireworks often mark celebratory events. For this vast drawing Cai exploded gunpowder that he had sandwiched between two sheets of paper, creating the symmetrical traces of two arcs. Rainbows recur in Cai's projects; his 2002 rainbow of fireworks joining Manhattan and Queens over the East River marked MoMA’s temporary move to Long Island City. While fireworks produce fleeting sprays of light that fade almost instantly, here the artist captured their traces on paper, allowing the image to outlive the event.
Gallery label from Out of Time: A Contemporary View, August 30, 2006–April 9, 2007.