Ai Weiwei began his career in art as one of the founders of an avant-garde group in China, which was later disbanded. A few years later, he travelled to the US where he was exposed and influenced by artists like Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and Jasper Johns. While living in New York, he became friends with the beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
Ai Weiwei’s Dropping A Han Dynasty Urn
His works often deal with social commentary. In 1995, Ai published a photographic triptych – a set of three photos – in which he is seen dropping an authentic Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) urn. In 2008, Ai exhibited According to What?, where he honored the 5,000 children who died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that collapsed 7,000 schoolrooms made with inferior material. It was also a call to action to the corruption that hovered over the building of what are now called tofu-dreg schools.
Two years later, he created ceramic figures of a Johnnie Walker bottle and a Coca Cola vase, which was a statement on the loss of historic material culture due to rapid modernization and mass production.
Ai Weiwei’s He Xie
In 2010, Ai was involved in another scandal when his Shanghai studio was set to be demolished, after he was accused of building it without the necessary planning permission. According to the artist, a high official from the Shanghai government encouraged him to build it as part of a new cultural area. He claimed it was unfair that his was the only one to be demolished while other artists got to keep theirs. He was placed under house arrest following plans of a party. In the end, the party took place without his presence, with guests dining on river crab, whose Chinese name alludes to harmony, and was used as a euphemism to attack official censorship. He was released the next day, and just last year, he launched an exhibit featuring 3,200 porcelain crabs.
Today, Ai Weiwei is one of the world’s leading artists, a lionhearted man who isn’t afraid to question the status quo. His works have shined a light on incidents a country known for its strict censorship laws have tried to suppress. His works have become a gateway to China, a way to truly understand what goes on behind closed doors (Twitter is blocked in the country).
The Ayala Museum presents Baby Formula in time for the Art Fair Philippines 2014, the premier platform for artists and the country’s foremost galleries to celebrate modern and contemporary visual art. Baby Formula will be on view at the Third Floor Multi-Purpose Hall until March 16, 2014.
So when in Manila and you want art with sociopolitical meaning, check out Baby Formula at the Ayala Museum!
Date | February 22 – March 16, 2014
Venue | Ayala Museum, Dela Rosa Street, Makati City
Website | www.ayalamuseum.org
Facebook | theayalamuseum
Twitter | @ayalamuseum
Email | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ayala Museum Presents: Ai Weiwei in the Philippines