Monday, 24 October 2016

Ai Weiwei at Downing College, Cambridge

Ai Weiwei - Tree outside the Heong Gallery
  
Ai Weiwei's "Cubes & Trees" were at Downing College in Cambridge recently.  If you didn't get to see them here's a taster...

Ai Weiwei's Cubes in the Heong Gallery

Each cube is a metre square and they are made up of Crystal Cube 2014 (Cystal), Ton of Tea 2008 (compressed Pu'er tea), Cube in Ebony 2009 (Zitan wood) & Treasure Box 2014 (Huali wood).
Ai Weiwei - Ton of Tea (detail)

Ai Weiwei - Treasure Box (detail)

The cubes show Ai Weiwei's preference for simple forms and at the same time his repect for the properties of different materials and traditional craftsmanship.

Ai Weiwei - Trees outside Downing College Chapel

Ai Weiwei's dramatic trees are sculpted from parts of different types of dead trees, some hundreds of years old.  The nuts and bolts used to hold them together are visible, emphasising that they are constructed.  They are tree-like yet rather strange.

Ai Weiwei is an outspoken Chinese artist who has been critical of the Chinese Government particularly on issues relating to the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.  Here schools collapsed as a result of the use of substandard building materials and little effort was made to determine how many students were killed.  Ai Weiwei and his team compliled a list of more than 5000 names and his related artwork was included in the RA Exhibition in 2015.  His criticism of the Government resulted in the confiscation of his passport between April 2011 and July 2015.  He is currently working in Berlin and Lesbos where his work has focussed on the plight of refugees.

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