Cai Guo-Qiang – The Explosive Artist

Cai Guo-Qiang: China’s explosive artist

There are three videos to choose from to learn about Cai Guo-Qiang.  Cai Guo-Qiang creates unique pieces of art using explosives and fireworks. His artworks are creative performances, with each element of the piece holding deep meaning. Cai Guo-Qiang’s artwork is often themed around the human experience, our place in the universe and our responsibilities for the world around us.

The first two are better for younger kids, the third one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or all three!

You may see a number of other videos that are a deeper dive into things you might be interested in. Feel free to watch as many of those as you like. Then choose some activities and/or a project. 

High school students or any student who wants to dig deeper, continue your study with the advanced learning project in the Projects section.

Take A Deeper Dive!

Explore further with this mini-documentary looking at Cai Guo-Qiang’s life.

Find out what Leonardo da Vinci and Cai Guo-Qiang have in common.

The Ninth Wave by Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang shares his process for Gunpowder Painting.


DIY Crayon Firework Scratch Art

You will need:

  • Thick paper or canvas
  • Wax crayons
  • Wooden BBQ skewer 
  • Hairdryer (only if using canvas)

Follow the video to learn how to make your own scratch art fireworks.

Remember to take a photo of your artwork and upload it to your portfolio.

Create a Watercolour Firework Painting

In this activity, you will learn how to use wet-on-wet watercolour technique to create a firework painting.

You will need:

  • White wax crayon or masking fluid
  • Watercolour paper
  • Watercolour paints
  • Artists tape 
  • Paint brushes
  • Water

Follow the video to learn how to create a watercolour painting of fireworks.

You may wish to watch one of the videos of Cai Guo-Qiang’s pieces in action as inspiration for your painting. Think about the colours, textures and emotions each pyrotechnic event portrays.

Remember to include a copy of your painting in your portfolio.


Create a Video Presentation on Cai Guo-Qiang

Both the life and artwork of Cai Guo-Qiang are unique. Cai Guo-Qiang  was raised during the Cultural Revolution in China, a time period where all forms of art and intellectualism were forbidden. In spite of this, Cai Guo-Qiang developed a passion for art and uses his creativity to share important messages with the world.

Create a video presentation on the life and work of Cai Guo-Qiang. Use the knowledge you have gained from this block, the resources below, and resources from your local library.

You may wish to use software such as Canva to make your video look professional. 

You could include:

  • Who he is, where he was born, where he lives now
  • Insight into his childhood and how this shaped him
  • Examples of his works; include video footage where possible
  • Who influenced his artwork, and who he influences
  • Details of major exhibitions and/or current exhibitions

Useful resources:

Remember to include a copy of your video in your portfolio.

Advanced Project

Write a Review for “Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang”

Cai Guo-Qiang is known for his spectacular displays of pyrotechnics. The documentary “Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang” explores the artistic processes needed to create such masterpieces of control.

In order to write your review:

  • Download a template for a review from Thompson Rivers University. 
  • How to Write a Movie Review has some helpful tips if you are looking for more guidance. 
  • Watch the documentary  “Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang”.
  • Do the research and fill in the notes of what you want to include in your outline. 
  • Then, write the review. 
  • Be sure to use a tool like Grammarly to help improve and edit your writing.

Upload your review to your portfolio.


Read Aloud Book(s)

The History of Fireworks