Faurschou Foundation’s major exhibition in 2015 features the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (1957). Over the past few years, as the title Ruptures indicates, Ai Weiwei’s life and artistic work have been marked a great deal by interruptions and upheavals, not least because of his forthright criticism of the Chinese regime, and the authorities’ subsequent detention of him for 81 days in 2011, followed by house arrest. This has made Ai Weiwei’s name known far beyond the art world.
Ai Weiwei’s works deals with Chinese history and contemporary society and includes physical artworks, social activities, curatorial projects, film, design and architecture. By using his art and actions as forms of intervention, Ai Weiwei seeks to affect social change in China. He expresses himself in a distinct and simple formal idiom, combing traditional Chinese materials and craftsmanship with his own personal history.
The exhibition at Faurschou Foundation presents some of the main works that have cemented Ai Weiwei’s position as one of the world’s most significant artists, including Sunflower Seeds, a smaller version of his major site-specific installation at Tate Modern in the Turbine Hall in 2010, consisting of 100 million hand-made porcelain sunflower seeds.
Another important work that has both visual strength and critical content is the large installation Straight (2008-12). The work consists of 73 tons of steel reinforcement that Ai Weiwei found crumpled up among the rubble after the earthquake in Sichuan, and then had transported to his workshop in Beijing, where assistants have meticulously hammered the bars straight again.
The exhibition also shows several of Ai Weiwei’s sculptures made of wood from some of the Buddhist temples that were torn down during the Cultural Revolution, and his iconoclastic work with antique vases several thousand years old. Finally, the exhibition includes photos from the period 1983-1993 taken by Ai Weiwei when he was living in New York.
About Ai Weiwei
Politically frank and aesthetically poignant, Ai Weiwei's works deal with Chinese history and contemporary society. His formal practise changes in form and the materials deployed according to the diversity of activities his art embraces. Influenced from his early career by Dada, Duchamp, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, Ai Weiwei's works have been based on a conceptual approach, in installations and sculptures.
The socio-political and economic climate of contemporary China most often serves as the starting point for Ai Weiwei's art - he has in the past years provoked Chinese authorities in his outspoken critique of the lack of democracy and freedom of speech. Today, Ai Weiwei lives and works in Berlin and Beijing, and has recently directed a number of documentary films, which explore the humanitarian crisis, revolving around refugees fleeing their countries, due to war and climate change.
Painting as Shooting