Ai Weiwei @ The Royal Academy

I was very privileged to go to a private viewing of the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the RA in London a few days ago. I have never been to see a major exhibition without another hundred or so other people crammed into the space trying to get a good look at the art, so it was amazing to be able to wander about with only a handful of others and take my time learning about this extraordinary man and his art.

I make no claim to being knowledgeable about art, so won’t attempt to write down my thoughts on the exhibition. The Royal Academy say this though

With typical boldness, the chosen works explore a multitude of challenging themes, drawing on his own experience to comment on creative freedom, censorship and human rights, as well as examining contemporary Chinese art and society.

I took some snaps on my iphone to whet your appetite and I highly recommend a visit. The Royal Academy itself is a thing of great beauty and whenever I visit places like that in London, I am reminded how extremely lucky I am to live where I do, with such history and architecture and culture available to me.

I was walking down Piccadilly once in my early 30s, going to a business meeting and I bumped into my parents ~ it was a surprise to the 3 of us and I was reminded of it on Saturday. A lovely memory and a lovely evening out with Mr Bee.

Ai Weiwei entrance to the exhibition

Ai Weiwei stools

Ai Weiwei porcelain crabs

Ai Weiwei Coca Cola vaseAi Weiwei vases

Ai Weiwei in prison

Ai Weiwei chandelier

The most powerful piece, in my view, is his memorial to the 5000 children who died in the Sichuan earthquake. I could not do it justice with my little camera, but I urge you to go and see it.

This description from the Royal Academy website explains it beautifully, but you need to see it to understand its power:

The largest gallery at the RA will houseStraight, Ai Weiwei’s poignant response to the Sichuan earthquake of 2008. Poorly built schools in the Sichuan province – held up by steel rods which twisted and mangled in the quake – were devastated, leaving thousands of students dead. These rods (which Ai had labourers straighten by hand) make up the 90-ton floor-based sculpture, that is laid out in broken undulations recalling fault lines.

A couple of the little signs in the Royal Academy itself also took my eye:

No Smoking sign @ RASign @ RAsign @ RA

Info on the exhibition can be found here.

Annie Bee x

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