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Cai Guo-Qiang for Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent Commissions Cai Guo-Qiang for an Explosive Artwork in Japan

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Japan’s First Show of Daytime Fireworks

On Monday at exactly noon, the skies of Yotsukura Beach in Iwaki, Japan were filled with the blossoming smoke plumes of the country’s first-ever show of daytime fireworks—a display entitled When the Sky Blooms with Sakura. The rising trails and their resulting clouds, in powdery white, midnight blue, and pink, were the work of the artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Commissioned by the fashion house Saint Laurent and Creative Director Anthony Vaccarello, (part of the maison’s commitment to promoting creativity beyond the limits of fashion), the activation marked an explosive celebration of Cai’s exhibition “Ramble in the Cosmos – From Primeval Fireball Onward,” which opened today at the National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT).

Cai Guo-Qiang for Saint Laurent

Cai Guo-Qiang’s “When the Sky Blooms with Sakura,” courtesy of the artist and Saint Laurent.

Revisiting a Sentimental History

The location of Yotsukura Beach was selected for its significance to the artist, who lived there for a period in 1993, during which he built a community of friends and collaborators—one that has endured the years through each other’s company and support. In 1994, Cai, with the help of his community, imagined a similar pyrotechnic event of greater magnitude on the very same beach. Called The Horizon from the Pan-Pacific, it lit up the night with an impressive three miles of explosives.

Fast-forward to the present day, nearly 30 years later, 40,000 individual fireworks shells were situated across a stretch of 1,300 feet for the occasion, just where the ocean met the shore. There, in perfect choreography, the artist’s mesmerizing pyrotechnic display fulminated over the course of 30 minutes, their colors unfurling in a series of five visual concepts, each chosen with purpose.

Cai Guo-Qiang for Saint Laurent

Cai Guo-Qiang’s “When the Sky Blooms with Sakura,” courtesy of the artist and Saint Laurent.

“I hope that the artwork will inspire the world with faith and hope.”—Cai Guo-Qiang

The deep swirls of Black Waves acknowledged the pain of the past. Next, Memorial Monument offered a moment of mourning, paying tribute to all that have suffered during disasters like wars and the pandemic. Finally, the specially-designed pink fireworks posed a brighter future in sakura, which aligned with an initiative by the artist and friends in Iwaki following the 2011 earthquake, Project to Plant Ten Thousand Cherry Blossom Trees. As the pink fireworks bloomed against the clear blue of the sky, viewers were reminded of the project’s encompassing vision: a future where the ruins of the nuclear powerplant—a devastating disaster caused by the earthquake—are overcome by views of cherry blossoms.

“Thank you to the beautiful sea and sky of Yotsukura, and the rare cooperation and companionship of the sound of the wind and waves in this worrisome June…,” said the artist. “Mankind today is facing various challenges such as coexisting with the pandemic, economic decline, deglobalization, and increased national and cultural conflicts. Through the sakura in the sky, I was expressing the story of the friendship between the people of Iwaki and me, which transcends politics and history, and I hope that the artwork will inspire the world with faith and hope.”

Cai Guo-Qiang for Saint Laurent

Cai Guo-Qiang’s “When the Sky Blooms with Sakura,” courtesy of the artist and Saint Laurent.

More to See

Today, Saint Laurent is debuting a video of the explosive event for the world to see on screen, live at 8 PM local time at Times Square in New York, London’s Piccadilly, The Grand Gateway in Shanghai, Shamao in Chengdu, and in Tokyo at Shinjuku and Harajuku. Concurrently in Tokyo, visitors at the NACT gained a first look at Cai’s large-scale works comprising “Ramble in the Cosmos – From Primeval Fireball Onward,” organized in collaboration with the fashion house. On view through August 21, it transforms the gallery’s 6,000 square feet into a space reminiscent of a public square, where the artist’s titular work is recreated alongside new ones, presenting a sort of dialogue with the universe and all things unseen.

Cai Guo-Qiang's “Ramble in the Cosmos – From Primeval Fireball Onward

Installation view of Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Ramble in the Cosmos – From Primeval Fireball Onward” at National Art Center, Tokyo, courtesy of the artist and Saint Laurent.

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THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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Poetic set designs underpinned the fall/winter 2024 collections by Saint Laurent, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Chanel, and more.
Anthony Vaccarello imagined a collection for Saint Laurent that played with our idea of visibility for winter 2024.
Saint Laurent's lavish new space rejoices in the brand’s glamorous past, while introducing clients to its visionary future.

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