I had already read something about this artist and I was really curious to see his artworks, so I went to the Royal Academy last Saturday , even if the exhibition will continue until December 13th I was really impressed!
One of my favorite works shown at the exhibition is the one reporting the names of over 5000 children died in Sichuan’s 2008 earthquake, exhibited quietly next to 90 tonnes of steel bars collected from their collapsed schools (Straight, 2008-2012).
I like also the work titled Trees. Ai’s trees are made from pieces of dead trees brought down from the mountains in different areas of southern China. Ai transported the pieces to his studio in Beijing where they were made into trees. As he says, “it’s just like trying to imagine what the trees looked like”.
But I need to tell you who Ai Weiwei is, because if you know his life’ history you’ll appreciate his art.
Ai Weiwei is one of the Chinas’s most recognisable and contentious artist, as famous for his outspoken criticism of the government of his native country as for this art.
Born in1957, he currently resides and works in Beijing. Ai’s father was the Chinese poet Ai Qing,who was denounced during the Anti-Rightist Movement.
In 1958, the family was sent to a labour camp in Beidahuang, Heilongjiang, when Ai was one year old. They were subsequently exiled to Shihezi, Xinjiang in 1961, where they lived for 16 years. The family was only allowed to resettle in Beijing 20 years later, when Mao died in 1976.
In 1978, like many artist of this generation, Ai left China seeking freedom of expression aboard. From 1981 to 1993, he lived in the United States, mostly in New York City. During this period, he gained exposure to the works of Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and Jasper Johns, and began creating conceptual art by altering readymade objects.
In 1993,on hering that his father was very ill,Ai returned to Bejing,where he began to create the body of work that is explored in this exhibition at the Real Academy of Arts,in London. As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the `Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights. Following his arrest and secret detention at Beijing Capital International Airport in 2011.He was held for 81 days without any official charges being filed, for all those days two guards observed him at all times, even as he slept. Ai’s fame as a political dissident increased to such an extent that it overshadowed his artistic practice. Yet throughout this tumultuous period Ai remained committed to his art and produced a body of work that not only support his political concerns but also shows his creative impulse and love of experimentation.
This exhibition ,curated by Adrian Locke in collaboration with Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing ,present some of the most important works from the time he retourned to China from the US in 1993 right up to the present days.
The chosen works explore a multitude of challenging themes,drawing on his personal experiences to comment on creative freedom,censorship and human rights,as well as examining contemporary Chinese art and society.
Don’t miss one of the best art shows in London 2015!