Ai Weiwei, in La Virreina

“On the Table. Ai Weiwei”, a retrospective on the Chinese creator and activist’s career, can be seen from the 5th of November to the 1st of February

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is best known for his controversial actions, his activism against Chinese government policy and for his open criticism of the lack of freedom in his country. Poet, architect, designer, curator and prolific blogger, the exhibition in the Virreina Centre de la Imatge entitled On the Table. Ai Weiwei presents a retrospective of his artistic career from New York in the 1980s up to the present day. Multidisciplinary, media-savvy and militant, the work of the Chinese artist has always combined artistic output with social criticism in a wide variety of genres that includes documentary film, photography, architecture, ready-mades, or ‘found art’, and installations.

Weiwei’s work may be considered as a multi-edged blade with both oriental and occidental influences including, on the one hand, thousand-year-old Chinese tradition and, on the other, clear influences of the likes of Duchamp and Warhol and his experiences during his sojourn in New York, a period that lasted more than a decade. His work, however, also includes searing criticism of the current policies being implemented by the Chinese regime, where the broadening of outlook on the economic front has not been matched by democratic advances, one example of this inconsistency being the Han-dynasty urn emboldened with the Coca-Cola logo, a contra-juxtaposition of the need for historical memory with current rampant consumerism.

The exhibition also includes some of the artist’s more iconic works such as the provocative series Study of Perspective and a number of documentaries about his projects as well as previously unpublished works and installations created especially for the occasion.

The title of the exhibition refers Weiwei’s table from his studio in Beijing, which has been transported to the former Virreina dining room, offering the visitor a glimpse of the space where the artist and his team have celebrated innumerable meetings. In addition to providing a space for interaction with the public, the table also symbolises the inevitable absence of the artist – Ai Weiwei has had his passport confiscated and cannot leave China.

The exhibition On the Table. Ai Weiwei can be seen in La Virreina Centre de la Imatge from the 5th of November to the 1st of February, 2015. Entry is free and more information is available here.

Publication date: Tuesday, 04 November 2014
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