Artlyst Photo Special: Ai Weiwei’s Tree Installation At The Royal Academy




Artlyst recently attended the press view of the Royal Academy of Arts’ landmark exhibition of the Honorary Royal Academician, Ai Weiwei. The exhibition includes significant works from 1993 onwards, the date that marks Ai Weiwei’s return to China following more than a decade living in New York. The first work that the viewer is met with is the artist’s impressive ‘Tree’ installation in the RA courtyard, comprised of reclaimed and reconstructed trees from the artist’s home country of China. Artlyst attended to give you a look at this monumental structure.

Image: Ai Weiwei Tree 2009 – 2015
. Photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015.

“Ai’s trees are made from parts of dead trees that are brought down from the mountains of southern China and sold in the markets of Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. Ai transports these to his studio in Beijing where they are made into trees. As he says, “it’s just like trying to imagine what the tree looked like.

Image: Ai Weiwei Tree 2009 – 2015
. Photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015.

Held together by hidden mortise and tenon joins and large industrial bolts, the trees look natural from a distance and artificial from close up. Tree has been likened to the modern Chinese nation, where ethnically diverse peoples have been brought together to form ‘One China’, a state-sponsored policy aimed at protecting and promoting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” – Adrian Locke.

Image: Ai Weiwei Marble Armchair in the RA courtyard
. Photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015.

Ai stated: “I’m honoured to have the chance to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts. Tim Marlow and the rest of the exhibition team have a history of producing outstanding exhibitions. I’m very happy to be a part of it. This exhibition is my first major survey in London, a city I greatly admire. The selected artworks reflect my practice in recent years, and also include new works made specifically for this show.”

Image: Ai Weiwei Tree 2009 – 2015
. Photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015.

Tim Marlow, Artistic Director and co-curator of the exhibition, Added: “Ai Weiwei is one of the most important artists in the world today but his work has not been seen anywhere near as much as it should have been in the UK. This exhibition will begin to redress that balance and give an extensive new audience the chance to experience a creative phenomenon that is at once radical, political, architectural, historical, poetic, materially inventive and transformative … even before they’ve walked through the Courtyard.”

Photos P A Black © Artlyst 2015

Ai Weiwei Royal Academy – until 13 December 2015


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