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Ai Weiwei: According to What?

Ai Weiwei: According to What?

Pronounced eye way-way - Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism. He infuses his sculptures, photographs, and public artworks with political conviction and personal poetry, and critically examines a host of contemporary Chinese political and social issues.

In 2012,  ArtReview magazine named Ai Weiwei the most powerful artist in the world. So, when the chance arose for me to witness the artwork firsthand at his first Canadian exhibit at The Art Gallery Of Ontario, I was thrilled.
If you haven’t heard of him before, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei tests boundaries with his artwork and creates pieces unlike anything the world has ever seen. Arrested, jailed, and harassed by the Chinese government, he tests the boundaries of the Chinese regime. His sculptural works often use reclaimed materials, including ancient pottery and wood from destroyed temples. He then marries them to an with contemporary social concerns. His work employs sarcasm, strong juxtapositions, and repetitions.

According To What at the AGO

According To What at the AGO

One piece in particular which I had long waited to see was entitled, Snake. The descriptor read:

On May 12, 2008 a massive earthquake in China’s Sichuan province killed approximately 90,000 people. Ai WeiWei created a serpentine sculpture, made of about 800 backpacks to commemorate the more than 5,000 schoolchildren who were killed when their poorly constructed schools collapsed. Government officials refused to release the number of deaths or acknowledge any accountability.  In 2009, Ai WeiWei launched a citizen investigation to ensure that neither the children nor the devastation would be forgotten.

Snake by Ai WeiWei

Snake by Ai WeiWei

scroll to second column & continue reading
Straight, made of 38 tons of steel rebar recovered from the 2008 Sichuan earthquake devastation.

Straight, made of 38 tons of steel rebar recovered from the 2008 Sichuan earthquake devastation.

Ai Weiwei is currently confined to his home in Beijing for his work being too critical of Chinese government and Chinese culture. He faces constant video surveillance, his phone lines are tapped, and his blog was deleted. Authorities even destroyed his Shanghai studio in 2010. He is also unable to leave the country. This is one exhibit that you must go to if you live in the Toronto area, to see the famed work of a true artist visionary. See the full pictures below.

Ai WeiWei’s exhibit, According to What?, is running until Oct. 27 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  

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