My hesitation to see this show was due to the politicised element of the artist and his art, and the eventual commercialisation of the politicised art and the artist.
Art is about shocking us, making us think, educating us, and opening our minds. And certainly Ai Wei Wei does not disappoint in these regards. But art is also about beauty, the aesthetic, and the inspiration it gives to the viewers.
Don't get me wrong, I do think Ai Wei Wei is an amazing and savvy artist. His installation of steel rods that he saved from the collapsed schools after an earthquake is poignant, moving, and political. He makes us aware of an issue in China through art. However, the last room of the exhibition with several boxed installations that told the story of his captivities, just tipped the balance from art to politics for me.
Would the works of Ai Wei Wei be as important without the commercialisation of his political status? Is Ai Wei Wei an artist or a political artist?
The installation of drift wood and dead wood come to life in shapes of trees, Burlington House.
The 'trees' up close, in chiaroscuro!
Marble grass and baby stroller
27 beautiful connected old stools standing on a single 3-legged stool
The "Hangman", such a great title for this work!
The vases painted in industrial paint - simply beautiful!
However, did you know he covered in paint the vases dating back to Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) and Neolithic vases (5000 - 3000 BC)? Shocking!
Old and used wood assempled in the shape of China, but not visible from ground level. Apparently, one has to see it from the top... a platform for visitors to appreciate the view from the top would have been helpful!
All in all, an interesting show with the colourful vases as the focal point for me. I just hope Ai Wei Wei has made his point and never paints such old vases again. There must be unlimited number of new vases just waiting for the hands of a master artist!