With less than two weeks left to see Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy, MyArtBroker writer Emma, went along to see this much talked about exhibition.
People in the UK don’t know that much about life in modern China – despite the fact that most of our worldly goods are manufactured there. Ai Weiwei – the most famous contemporary Chinese artist – has a soulful, painful relationship with this native land, and sets it out in his current, hugely impressive exhibition at the Royal Academy (until 13 December). A visit is like stepping into another land.
From the huge ancient gnarled fairytale trees in the courtyard, that have been shipped from a Chinese mountainside, to the glittering chandelier made out of bicycles – its scope runs the gamut of traditional Chinese crafts, landscape and history, through modern technology to global politics.
There’s a mixture of Imperial China, Dada, Duchamp, and a critique of the oppressive power of the Communist regime. Han dynasty pottery sits alongside marble copies of surveillance cameras. The pure sensual delight of polished, carved hard wood intricately refigured into a minimalist cube, alongside a tonne – literally – of Chinese tea, also shaped into a cube.