«Primeval Fireball marked a transformative departure for my vision and thinking, and its lasting effects accompany me to this present moment.» – Cai Guo-Qiang

Internationally renowned contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s large-scale solo exhibition, Ramble in the Cosmos – From Primeval Fireball Onward, will open on June 29, 2023, at the National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT). The exhibition is co-organized by the NACT and Saint Laurent.

Shortly before the exhibition opening, Cai will also create a daytime fireworks event, titled When the Sky Blooms with Sakura, commissioned by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello and organized by the Executive Committee of the project. The fireworks will appear above the same coast where his explosion event The Horizon from the Pan-Pacific: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 14 was realized thirty years ago.

The special commission and involvement in organizing Cai Guo-Qiang’s exhibition marks the latest instance of Saint Laurent’s ongoing mission, under the initiative of Anthony Vaccarello, to support excellence in various creative fields including visual arts, cinema, and music.


For decades, Cai has been fascinated by the wider universe and the unseen world, including feng shui, astrology, and the ancient Eastern philosophies behind them. He also holds a long term interest in science and technology as contemporary approaches to understanding our infinite universe. His work also reveals the influences of sensitive reflections on contemporary social issues. Cai creatively uses gunpowder as his artistic medium. His large-scale paintings, installations, and outdoor explosion projects are renowned worldwide and convey a grand worldview that is both mythological and anthropological.

The exhibition Ramble in the Cosmos – From Primeval Fireball Onward at NACT will thus posit the Primeval Fireball exhibition as a starting point, metaphorically Cai’s artistic “Big Bang.” From there, the exhibition will trace the evolution of Cai’s practice, posing two questions: what triggered the “big bang” and what has occurred since then? Cai’s dialogue with the universe and the unseen world will serve as a core theme for the exhibition, revealing itself through a presentation of the artist’s early works from China, followed by those from his formative years in Japan, then works made during his subsequent time in the United States and his journey onto the world stage – displaying a rich artistic journey whose growth mirrors the expansion of the universe.

NACT’s 2,000-square-meter gallery, 1E, will be transformed into a sweeping open space for this exhibition, evoking a public square. The historic screen painting installation Primeval Fireball will be «re-enacted» on one side of the exhibition hall, featuring three new paintings on glass and mirror with all-new subjects. Adjacent to this will stand another major highlight of the exhibition: the artist’s expansive and kinetic LED installation, Encounter with the Unknown. Viewers will be invited to weave freely through these two works. The exhibition will feature approximately fifty works (some of which appear in groupings) from the collections of major public art museums in Japan as well as from the artist’s own collection.

These displays will be enriched by a large selection of rare archival materials, documentary videos, as well as wall text written from the artist’s first-person perspective. The entire exhibition will strike audiences as a gigantic installation in its own right, where they can experience Cai’s idiosyncratic perspectives and artistic journey.