Landmark Ai Weiwei exhibition comes to Royal Academy of Arts

Spo Brig

Spo Brig

2015-07-09 09:42:47

The Royal Academy of Arts has announced a landmark exhibition featuring the work of Ai Weiwei, set to open in London in September.

The exhibition will be the first of its kind for the artist, who was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Arts in May 2011, following his 81-day detention at the hands of the Chinese government.

Since then Ai Weiwei has been unable to leave China, having had his passport confiscated, and has designed the Royal Academy show using architectural plans and video footage of the exhibition space.

“Working with Ai Weiwei has presented us with new challenges but his ability to comprehend space, even without having experienced it first hand, and the clarity of his vision for the use of that space in relation to his work has been revelatory,” said Adrian Locke, co-curator of the exhibition.

The exhibition will feature significant works created from 1993 onwards, when Ai Weiwei first returned to China after a decade in New York, and began exploring his homeland's social and cultural heritage through groundbreaking works.

To date his sculptures and installations have encompassed thousands of years of Chinese history, from Neolithic vases (5000-3000 BCE) and Qing dynasty (1644-1911) furniture, to the recreation of human remains from 1950s labour camps and wreckage from the devastating Sichuan earthquake of 2008.

“Ai Weiwei is one of the most important artists in the world today but his work has not been seen anywhere near as much as it should have been in the UK," said Tim Marlow, Artistic Director and co-curator of the exhibition.

"This exhibition will begin to redress that balance and give an extensive new audience the chance to experience a creative phenomenon that is at once radical, political, architectural, historical, poetic, materially inventive and transformative … even before they’ve walked through the Courtyard.”

“I’m honoured to have the chance to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts," said Ai Weiwei. "Tim Marlow and the rest of the exhibition team have a history of producing outstanding exhibitions. I’m very happy to be a part of it. This exhibition is my first major survey in London, a city I greatly admire. The selected artworks reflect my practice in recent years, and also include new works made specifically for this show.”

The exhibition opens in the main gallery of the Royal Academy of Arts on September 19, and runs until December 13, 2015.

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