I recently came across some media coverage on Ai Weiwei. The world family and politically controversail sculptor has move to live in Cambridge in England after living in Germany for the last few years. He is also setting up a business to share his sculptures with buyers to be re-assembled in one’s home. This is consistent with his signature style to shock and to make one ponder his intent.
This brings to mind his exhibition in Toronto entitled “According to What?” some years ago. The impact of his home imprisonment in China was still fresh in his consciousness. And with China in the news these days with the CO-vid19 virus spreading from Wuhan to all over China, and globally with no end in sight, the image of his crabs is an apt parady. There is a Chinese saying, that if one spills a basket of crabs, they’ll crawl everywhere–a situation hard to contain and control. This is what it is:
Ai Weiwei has been described as provocative, political and controversial. The exhibition of his art on a world tour and at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) originated from Japan. The curator went to his home in China where he was on house arrest to discuss the presentation. I went to the exhibition with an open-mind, albeit wonderfully how I would feel afterwards.
Ai Weiwei’s Snake meandered on the ceiling of the entrance hall.
I entered a corridor with photographs of the changing landscape of China on display. The next corridor had television screens showing a myriad of clips ranging from Ai Weiwei working on his art forms, making faces (which I guess was also his artistic expression), and his arrest by the Chinese officials. There was a write-up on the incidence and pictures of brain scan showing the brain injuries Ai had sustained from the blow of the head by his officials, and for which Ai had to undergo brain surgery.
On the opposite wall, two marble sculptures, one representing surveillance camera outside his house and the helmet worm by the rescue crew at the Szechwan earthquake paved the way for more messages from the artist.
His works reflect his ideas about free expression and right to protest, and at the same time, his artistic brilliance shine in his astuteness in the use of lines, forms and geometry.
One passed by a life-size sculpture of Ai Weiwei himself as one left the exhibition deeply moved by the power of this giant in the artistic world.
I am wondering now if Ai Weiwei will create a sculpture with face masks in response to the Wuhan corona virus when the masks are back in supply. This may even be a piece he can shipped to his patrons’ homes to be re-assembled.