The blockbuster that is the artist Ai Wei Wei is in London at the Royal Academy on Piccadilly. The show opened a while ago, but due to Frieze London being on, there was a chance to see it without the crowds one evening, so I took that chance.
I had liked the ceramic sunflower seeds at Tate Modern a few years back so I was interested to see this show.
Tate Modern Ai WeiWei
Ai Wei Wei’s work is monumental. There are a few small pieces, but I think the scale of each of the pieces in this show is, generally, too big. I am not a monumental art fan. It has connotations I don’t like. Most of these pieces I thought would be better smaller, quieter. Then we could see the art because when work is on the monumental scale it can become documentary, memorial and historical centrepiece.
A lot of it is quite literal.
The carpet of metal representing maps of China I found lovely, but I am not sure that is the intention, to be lovely, as the work is made from the rods retrieved after the earthquake where 20 schools capsized in 2008 and thousands of children died. The names of the children are on the wall in a long placard of remembrance; lives, potentials erased. But the work is quite brutalist. I thought about the studio workers having to collect the metal and straighten it, and wondered how they felt.
The bicycle chandelier was very literal and rather kitsch. The wall papers I thought were a bit childish. I could not find a lot to love. I found the fact that many temples had been destroyed and he had rescued the wood and reused it good. I liked the first room of wooden structures and some of the cubes, but in the end, monumental as it was, political as it was, I found the show quite thin.