My recent visit to see Ai Weiwei’s work at the Royal Academy in London is one of the most moving and immersive exhibitions I have experienced.
Today, we are exposed to such diversity in visual statements and messages. Artists use the language to varying degrees with methods to shock, engage and promote, some successful, others less so.
Weiwei in my opinion excels in the purest of form, the simplicity of his installations is underpinned by the Ying Yang of the practitioner. A gentle man whose views on living, through his art, are suppressed by his own nation. His direct approach to political commentary on an oppressive regime and their stance on human rights and democracy is well documented. Yet, here in this space, he creates a sophisticated calmness despite the intense destruction he has witnessed and the powerful messages being conveyed. The materials and messages are intertwined to create art that is arresting.
Twisted steel and rock are reformed from the debris of corrupt officialdom, re-constructed to tell stories in the most innovative and beautiful ways.
His internment at the hands of his own government for his views is breathtakingly displayed in a collection of voyeuristic rooms, exact re-creations of the cell he was held for after his arrest in 2011.
His work is mesmerising in thought. It is constructed with the greatest of respect for man and material, with the highest form of craftsmanship. Iconic images shaken from their normal use and appropriated in sculpture, lighting and evocative messaging.
Genius with soul.