Ai Weiwei Controversial London One Man Show
Despite being under house arrest, Ai Weiwei is about to launch the most important gallery exhibition of his career. Problem is he has been detained in China. So who will deliver the exhibition in the ultimate defiant gesture of civil obedience? The studio and supporters of Ai Weiwei are determined to proceed with his planned projects. These include the major public installation ‘Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads’ which opened in New York on 2 May and will open at Somerset House in London on 12 May, the day of the fountain event, Lisson Gallery hope to open of one of the most significant living artists, cultural figures, and champions of human rights in China's solo exhibition.
Ai Weiwei was detained by authorities in Beijing while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong on 3 April, and has not been seen or heard from since. Lisson Gallery, along with all his supporters in the UK and around the world, are alarmed by the detention of Ai Weiwei and greatly concerned for his safety.
Updated news and information can be found at www.freeaiweiwei.org. Please sign the petition started by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and signed by leading members of the International arts community: www.change.org/petitions/call-for-the-release-of-ai-weiwei
We are extremely alarmed by the detention of Ai Weiwei and his colleagues and are greatly concerned for his safety. Ai Weiwei is one of the leading cultural figures of his generation and consistently displays great courage in placing himself at risk to affect social change through his art. He serves as an example for legitimate social criticism and free expression both in China and internationally. Lisson Gallery has a long history of working with political artists and we strongly condemn any form of artistic suppression. We continue to support Ai Weiwei and are fully committed to staging his first solo exhibition at the gallery, opening 13 May 2011.
Greg Hilty, Director, Lisson Gallery
From 13 May to 16 July 2011 Ai Weiwei will present a show of sculptural and video works at Lisson Gallery. This will be a chance to view a number of key works by the artist, one of the most significant cultural figures of his generation, both in China and internationally.
Ai Weiwei successfully occupies multiple roles as a conceptual artist, architect, curator, designer, film-maker, publisher, and social and cultural critic. Following on from his landmark Unilever series commission Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern (until 2 May 2011), the show will be his first at Lisson Gallery and will be held across both Bell Street spaces.
Greg Hilty of Lisson Gallery says: “We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring to a UK public a selection of key works that demonstrate the range and sensibility of Ai Weiwei. Beautifully crafted, conceptually acute, poetically resonant, these works provide a concise overview of his concerns as an artist.”
In many ways deeply political, Ai Weiwei’s work explores the tension in ideology, what he describes “as being between a more interesting state of mind and a more dreadful state of mind. The artist should be for the interesting against the dreadful." Using a variety of formal languages with both traditional and innovative methods of production, Ai links the past with the present and explores the geopolitical, economic and cultural realities affecting the world with humour and compassion. Described as “the best artist to have appeared since the Cultural Revolution in China” , his work can be seen as a succession of gestures critiquing both commodity fetishism and the society in which he lives.
Among numerous international projects planned for next year are exhibitions of Ai’s photographic works at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, and his architectural projects at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria.
About the Artist
Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing, China, where he lives and works. Solo exhibitions include Stiftung DKM, Duisburg (2010); Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland (2010); Arcadia University Gallery, Glenside (2010); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2009); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009); Three Shadows Photography Art Center, Beijing (2009); Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Cambelltown Arts Center, Sydney (2008); Groninger Museum, Groningen (2008). Group exhibitions include the São Paulo Biennial (2010); Biennale Architecture, Venice (2008); Documenta 12, Kassel (2007) and Tate Liverpool (2007).
Widely considered to be one of the most significant cultural figures of his generation in China and internationally, Ai Weiwei successfully occupies multiple roles as a conceptual artist, architect, curator, designer, film-maker, publisher and activist.
Using a variety of formal languages with both traditional and innovative methods of production, Ai links the past with the present and explores the geopolitical, economic and cultural realities affecting the world with humour and compassion.
Ai Weiwei's Unilever series commission 'Sunflower Seeds' is currently on display in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall until 2 May 2011. A major public installation 'Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads' will open in Ai Weiwei's Unilever series commission 'Sunflower Seeds' is currently on display in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall until 2 May 2011.
A major public installation 'Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads' will open in New York on 2 May and at Somerset House in London on 12 May. Other numerous international projects planned for this year are the exhibitions of Ai’s photographic works at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland and of architectural projects at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria.