The Lisson Gallery unveiled back in 2010 that it would be showing the work of the dissident Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei at its London gallery. The Milan branch of the gallery, which opened in September 2011, will consequently be hosting an exhibition ceramic and marble works by the controversial artist from 12 April to 5 May 2012.
The exhibition will include a number of ceramics made by Ai Weiwei in 2006 during an intensive working residency in Jingdezhen, the heartland of Chinese ceramic production. The traditional techniques passed on to Ai Weiwei by local craftsmen sparked a radical new direction for the artist and were the genesis of his Sunflowers Seeds installation at Tate Modern. The historical and cultural significance of the materials and techniques Ai Weiwei uses are an essential element of almost all his sculptures. Much of his work with ceramics has involved ready-mades: adapting, painting and destroying valuable ancient urns and vases. In contrast the exhibition at Lisson focuses on sculptures he has created by hand from scratch.
Ai Weiwei is a master of concept working with ceramics, stone,wood and other mediums. He is often considered as a Chinese traditional artistic material, ceramic nonetheless also has links to the city of Milan: it was the place where famous designers, such as Giò Ponti, made the most of this material and brought it back to prominence.
Porcelain is traditionally seen as the highest Chinese art form; Ai Weiwei has long challenged this reverence and the high financial values attached to the medium. Still his work shows deference to the craftsman of Jingdezhen and their skills, meeting the same exacting standards in their perfect finish. On display are some of his latest creations, which pay homage to China as well as to ceramics and porcelain. The exhibitory path includes some ceramic works from 2006, such as the series Watermelons and Oil Spill and the 2,3 meters high sculpture Pillar. Weiwei is one of the most quoted artists of the contemporary art scene and is known for being a provocative and polemical artist, who openly criticizes the Chinese government, which cost him jail. In 2012 Weiwei raised a great international success with the installation Sunflower Seeds, displayed at the Tate Modern museum of London.
The Lisson Gallery, founded in London in 1967, offers visitors the chance to discover the many facets of one of the most important individuals to have marked the beginning of the 21th century. A conceptual artist, architect, curator, filmmaker and above all campaigner, Ai Weiwei’s work is also currently on display in Paris, at the Jeu de Paume until 29 April, and at the Museum De Pont in Tilburg (Netherlands) until 24 June.
Tags: Ai Weiwei, contemporary art, exhibition, gallery, Italy, Lisson Gallery, Milan.