Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Ai Wei Wei and Andy Warhol Exhibition

A good guide at an art exhibition can make the difference between an ordinary experience and a wonderful tour of discovery. I was lucky enough to strike a wonderful guide today at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) who conducted a large group around the Ai Wei Wei /Andy Warhol exhibition. The tour was meant to last an hour but ended up lasting almost two hours and was fascinating from start to finish.

Many of Ai Wei Wei's works comment on the surveillance state while others are simply works of a compassionate man:

 A triptych in Lego shows Ai Wei Wei clasping an ancient vase, then dropping it. It shatters. The work is a comment on the culture that oppresses its people.

Triptych in Lego explained by our wonderful guide

Chairman Mao

Two larger portraits of Chairman Mao are painted as if seen through Venetian blinds signifying a State that watches, even in personal spaces.

 A surveillance camera made from marble is made from marble from the same quarry as the marble for Mao's mausoleum.

Surveillance camera in marble

Andy Warhol also produced many multicoloured Mao images, but Warhol was living in America not China and his work comes across as somewhat vacuous when compared with that produced by Ai Wei Wei.

Ai Wei Wei's compassion for others shows in his work. The artwork 'Blossom' is a huge field of porcelain (a clay used for the Emporers utensils) flowers which remembers the many people who cannot flower under repressive regimes and an assemblage work showing himself and his guards during his last period in prison was made because he thought his guards were as much prisoners as he was. The rules they had to follow stipulated that they had to stand at all times while they observed him in silence.

'Blossom' 2015

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