Ceremony poster, 2022. Courtesy the Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara.
On May 19th 2022, at 5 p.m. local time, the Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara in Italy conferred the title of Honorary Academician of 2022 on contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Following speeches by the Director of the Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara Luciano Massari, the President Antonio Passa, and Professor Angelo Capasso, Cai gave a lecture to professors and students of the academy regarding his several departures from China, Japan, and the US in his artistic career.
The audience waiting outside of the academy for the diploma-awarding ceremony, 2022. Photo by Yutian Wang
The diploma-awarding ceremony in Aula Magna (Assembly Hall), 2022. Photo by Yutian Wang
The Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara states:
“For decades, Cai Guo-Qiang has been world renowned for his unique art, especially his gunpowder-based works and large-scale installations. The Director of the Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara Luciano Massari as well as the President Antonio Passa, together with the whole Academic Council and the Administration Council, have unanimously decided to assign this noble title to this great Chinese-born artist. Artists who have previously received this honor include: Antonio Canova and John Flaxman, Maurizio Cattelan with Massimo Bottura (2018), Jeff Koons (2019), and Marina Abramović (2021).
The Director of the Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara, Luciano Massari, and Cai Guo-Qiang, 2022.
Photo by Sang Luo
“Cai Guo-Qiang has been selected for his outstanding achievements in the international art sphere, notably his integration of traditional Chinese elements (gunpowder techniques and the spirit of eastern culture, etc.) into contemporary conceptual art as well as his contributions to increased dialogue between eastern and western cultures. In his works, Cai has developed a combination of artistic languages, including various styles and techniques, from traditional sketches and painting to more innovative and personal gunpowder paintings, explosion events, and installations, to the latest technologies, such as virtual reality and NFT, through which he has realized several projects.
Cai giving a lecture, 2022. Photos by Yutian Wang and Sang Luo
“The year’s selection for Honorary Academician reflects the growing importance of Chinese contemporary art on the world stage over the last few decades, with Cai Guo-Qiang as a representative of the peak of this phenomenon. The Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara also takes this opportunity to express its gratitude to its students that hail from all different regions of China.”
From left to right: Ludiano Massari (the Director of the Academy), Atonio Passa (the President of the Academy), Cai Guo-Qiang, Francesco De Pasquale (the Mayor of Carrara), Silvia Papucci (the Vice Director of the Academy), 2022. Photo by Clara Leverenz
The President of the Academy, Antonio Passa expresses: “Art now no longer has borders, limitations or ideologies. With his strong personality, Cai Guo-Qiang has managed to impose his particular artistic approach on the international art scene, making his work a protagonist of contemporary artistic expression.”
The Director of the Academy, Luciano Massari expresses: “We are enthusiastic about assigning this honorary title to an international artist whose work is aimed at finding a meeting-point between eastern and western cultures. We are for a global world, a world in which culture which should not have barriers, contrary to the direction which history seems to be taking us today.”
The Director of the Academy Luciano Massari introducing Cai, 2022. Photo by Sang Luo
Cai Guo-Qiang is no stranger to Carrara. In 2010, he participated in the Carrara International Sculpture Biennale curated by Fabio Cavallucci. Utilizing the ancient quarry that Michelangelo had used as a point of departure, Cai paid tribute to the past artist with the work One Thousand Youngsters Drawing David.
Cai and his work One Thousand Youngsters Drawing David, 2010.
Photo by Rita Miranda, courtesy Biennale Interazionale di Scultura di Carrara
Together, the professors and students of the academy issuing the certificate of Honorary Academician to Cai, 2022. Photo by Clara Leverenz
The Certificate of the Honorary Academician for Cai Guo-Qiang, 2022.