18 January 2016

Bonnefanten Award 2016 for Cai Guo-Qiang

Chinese artist wins biggest international award for visual art in the Netherlands

Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht has announced that Cai Guo-Qiang (1957, Quanzhou, Fujian, China – New York, USA), is the winner of the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA) 2016. The BACA consists of a sum of 50,000 Euros, a publication and a solo exhibition in the Bonnefantenmuseum in autumn 2016.

Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art 2016
The Bonnefantenmuseum has been presenting the BACA every two years since 2000. The award is a tribute to a living artist, who's artistic achievement is considered to be significantly influential to other artists and to professionals in the art world. The BACA 2016 was awarded unanimously to Cai Guo-Qiang by the international selection committee for the 2016 edition, comprising: Cao Fei (artist), Stijn Huijts (director Bonnefantenmuseum), William Lim (architect, collector), Carol Lu (curator, writer), Lars Nittve (former director M+ Museum Hong Kong) en Ulli Sigg (collector).

The official announcement says that, the selection committee faced a difficult task, in view of the high level of visual art from China, and given the complexity of balancing the different criteria. However, "the committee unanimously praised the exceptional and steady quality of Cai Guo Qiang's oeuvre and his great status among other artists. The committee postulates that Cai Guo Qiang has been able to contribute with his oeuvre to a meaningful context for Chinese art and artists outside of China.  The expectation that the works will bring about an innovative dialogue with the Bonnefantenmuseum and its collection also played a role in the selection process".

Cai Guo-Qiang
Cai Guo-Qiang is a Chinese contemporary artist,  currently living and working in New York City. Cai Guo-Qiang's practice draws on a wide variety of symbols, narratives, traditions and materials such as fengshui, Chinese medicine, shanshui paintings, science, flora and fauna, portraiture, and fireworks. Cai's art is a form of social energy, constantly mutable, linking what he refers to as "the seen and unseen worlds''. Cai's importance when considered on the parallel history of Chinese contemporary art is "critical", as he was among the first artists to contribute to discussions on Chinese art, however geographically dispersed, as a viable intellectual narrative with its own historical context and theoretical framework.

Cai was awarded the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, and the 20th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2009, the Praemium Imperiale in 2012, and the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Award in 2015. Additionally, he was also among the five artists honored with the first U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts award. He also served as Director of Visual and Special Effects for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Cai was the curator of the first China Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005.