top of page

艾未未 Ai Weiwei

03.10 - 04.22, 2023

Seoul

Press

Tang Contemporary Art is honored to announce the opening of renown artist Ai Weiwei’s solo exhibition at our Seoul gallery space on March 10th, 2023. This will be Ai’s fifth collaboration with Tang Contemporary Art after “Ai Weiwei” (Beijing), “Wooden Ball” (Hong Kong), “Refutation”(Hong Kong) and “Year of the Rat” (Bangkok). This exhibition will display Ai’s LEGO series which he began in 2007 and one set of Twelve Zodiacs sculpture work.

 

In Ai Weiwei’s practice, while maximizing the possibility of human expression and communication in our digitized world, he keeps searching for poetic meanings with human dignity; this is a continuation of what his father did. It came naturally to him, for he thinks they are on the same track, together with writers and poets such as Arthur Rimbaud and Walt Whitman. Once the language is designed, one can be in command.

 

That is how to have a better understanding of Ai’s recent works. LEGO being used to carry personal messages: those stories related to him, his childhood and his education are embedded in them. Pixels, digitization, segmentation, fragmentation and disconnection provide the unique freedom for reproduction, allowing for a qualitative and quantitative breakthrough in the formation of images that is distanced from the widely used order, method, and composition. It is similar to the use of ancient mosaics, and the presentation of fabrics (silk, wool) and carpets, which have a long tradition. Like the wooden movable-type printing during the Song Dynasty (ca. 1000 AD), the methods and means of production have replaced manual control, and this has led to a high level of accuracy and precision of the images completed.

 

This is the linguistic advantage of computer technology, and a figurative presentation of an intelligent logical system for the digital age. Essentially it is the same as the "production" and de-individuated expressions that Ai has tried to establish with Fairytale (2007) that brought 1,001 Chinese visitors to documenta 12, Sunflower Seeds (2010) with one hundred million hand painted porcelain seeds, Straight (2012) consisting of one hundred and fifty tons of rebars, and Soft Ground (2009), a hand-woven carpet that replicated the same patterns and textures of the museum floor. This feature is present in its entirety in Washed (1990), in which the images of washes and erosion of hundreds of wooden panels created alternative image effects, homogeneous splicing, multiplication, and decentralization; the work was born out of technical means of production, allowing for the precise presentation of concepts, methods, language, and composition. The mystified "artistic" tendency of individuation and the unquantifiable customary language are thus replaced.

The existence and logic of using LEGO as structure are strikingly consistent with the logic of Ai’s social media expression including tweets and Instagram images. Both encompass the temporal and spatial factors, the flattening, fragmentation, and dispossessed continuity of media and reality, including the existence itself, ideologies, politics and happenings, linguistic approaches of culture and dreams. The same qualities can be seen in his documentary films Beijing 2003 (2003), Chang'an Boulevard (2004), Beijing: the Second Ring (2005), Beijing: the Third Ring (2005), and Rohingya (2022), his writings on social media platforms starting from Weibo in 2005 to Twitter and Instagram today, the large volume of documentary materials, photographic documentations and interviews. The logic of the formation of LEGO is in line with the relationship between print, photography, mechanical production, pop art, digital technology, modern media and widespread online games.

Ai had a purer intention for Untitled (After Pollock) (2020), made for the painting itself. Jackson Pollock’s technique of pouring and dripping paint on his canvases on the floor created the mythology of the feelings of colors, physical movement, and abstract expression. In parallel, digital pixels are results of human action and work in a different way. Unlike paint drops and brush strokes, pixels are homogeneous; there is no beginning, no end, no direction, and no human mediation. It is therefore ironic to present Pollock’s masterpiece in this way. It’s surely not for its beauty. It is probably the furthest he could go in the opposite direction of expressionism or any-ism.

In Untitled (After Munch) (2020), referencing Edvard Munch’s The Scream, Ai inserted an image of himself leaping in the air and covering his genitals with a caonima (alpaca) puppet. When it was revealed that financier Leon Black, who purchased The Scream at auction by Sotheby’s in Manhattan in 2012 and lent it to the MoMA, paid $158 million to Jeffrey Epstein, New York Times asked him if MoMA should have a higher aesthetic standard. Together with other artists, Ai made a statement that Leon Black should step down as MoMA’s chairman.

 

At first glance, Untitled (After Van Gogh) (2020) looks like Van Gogh’s painting Le semeur au soleil couchant with a man scattering seeds on the earth, but it actually comes from the combination between the painting and a news image of the locust plague in Pakistan in 2020. Ai added a panda to Peter Paul Rubens’ The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus in Untitled (After Rubens) (2020). His father liked Rubens’ paintings because of their powerful composition, and the vividly drawn muscles and nudity. While panda represents China’s presence, Untitled (After Rubens) juxtaposes a masterpiece of European painting with an image of contemporary China’s state power.

 

Ai added a hanger next to Venus, the Roman goddess of fertility and prosperity, in Sleeping Venus (After Giorgione) (2022). In the past, before abortion was made legal, tools including wire coat hanger was used by women who needed to self-induce an abortion, a brutal act out of desperation. Ai made an artwork with a wire coat hanger a long time ago: back in the 1980s, he twisted a hanger into the contours of Marcel Duchamp’s profile - Hanging Man (1985).

Download Press Release

Works
Dragon in Green

Dragon in Green

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum Unique 190 x 190 cm 2018

Untitled (After Van Gogh)

Untitled (After Van Gogh)

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 76 x 115 cm Edition 2 of 10 + 2AP 2020

The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus in Pink

The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus in Pink

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 385 x 346.5 cm Unique 2020

Scream

Scream

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 152 x 115 cm Edition 1 of 10 + 2AP 2020

Broadway Boogie Woogie in Combination of Lego

Broadway Boogie Woogie in Combination of Lego

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 152 x 152 cm Edition 3 of 10 + 2AP 2020

Sunflower Seed in Lego

Sunflower Seed in Lego

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 76.8 x 76.8 cm Edition 1 of 8 + 2AP 2018

The Navigation Route of the Sea Watch 3 Migrant Rescue Vessel, June 2019

The Navigation Route of the Sea Watch 3 Migrant Rescue Vessel, June 2019

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 308 x 308 cm Edition 1 of 2 + 1AP 2019

Traces Left on Mao’s Portrait

Traces Left on Mao’s Portrait

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 308 x 231 cm Edition 2 of 2 + 1AP 2019

Last U.S. Soldier Leaving Afghanistan

Last U.S. Soldier Leaving Afghanistan

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 269.5 x 269.5 cm Edition 1 of 3 + 1AP 2022

Self-Portrait (Hirshhorn Limited Edition)

Self-Portrait (Hirshhorn Limited Edition)

LEGO bricks 38.26 x 38.26 cm AP from Edition of 100 + 5AP 2017

I Can't Breathe

I Can't Breathe

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 154 x 231 cm AP of Edition of 2 + 1AP 2019

Know Thyself

Know Thyself

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 192.5 x 192.5 cm Edition 1 of 8 + 2AP 2022

After The Death of Marat

After The Death of Marat

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 231 x 269.5 cm Edition 2 of 2 + 1AP (+ 1 exhibition copy) 2019

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiac

Zodiac

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 115 x 115 cm each (Set of 12) Edition 5 of 10 + 2AP 2018

Zodiacs (Rabbit)

Zodiacs (Rabbit)

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 190 x 190 cm Unique work of Unique + 1AP 2018

Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads (Gold)

Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads (Gold)

Bronze with gold patina Pig : 70 x 35 x 50 cm, Phoenix : 88.5 x 33 x 41 cm, Dog : 63 x 38 x 55 cm, Monkey : 70 x 33 x 39 cm, Ox : 76.5 x 48 x 48 cm, Rat : 73 x 35 x 56 cm, Ram : 66 x 50 x 43 cm, Horse : 75 x 33 x 55 cm, Tiger : 70 x 33 x 40 cm, Snake : 70 x 33 x 45 cm, Dragon 龙 : 90 x 48 x 60 cm, Rabbit : 77.5 x 33 x 47 cm Wooden stands for each animals : 80 x 50 x 50 cm AP of Edition of 8 + 4AP 2010

The Cover Page of The Mueller Report, Submitted to Attorney General William Barr by Robert Mueller o

The Cover Page of The Mueller Report, Submitted to Attorney General William Barr by Robert Mueller o

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 462 x 346.5 cm Edition 2 of 2 + 1AP 2019

Illumination

Illumination

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 308 x 385 cm Edition 1 of 6 + 1 AP 2019

Sleeping Venus with Coat Hanger

Sleeping Venus with Coat Hanger

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 308 x 500.5 cm Unique + 1AP 2022

Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn

Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn

LEGO bricks mounted on aluminum 230 x 192 cm x 3 (Triptych) Edition 2 of 30 + 2AP 2015

Artist
Artist
1. Portrait - Ai Weiwei (photo credit Ai Weiwei Studio).jpeg

Ai Weiwei

b.1957, Beijing, China

As one of the world’s most critical artists, Ai Weiwei is renowned for making strong aesthetic statements that resonate with timely phenomena across today’s geopolitical world. From architecture to installations, social media to documentaries, Ai uses a wide range of mediums as expressions of new ways for his audiences to examine society and its values.

 

Ai Weiwei endeavors not just to spread Chinese culture across the globe, but appropriate it to express modern, reflective ideas. A porcelain vase can be elegant, but can also be a façade for the feudalistic tradition of treasury and court culture; a zodiac sign can be mythical and symbolic, but can also be down-to-earth and playful as presented by Ai who used lego as a medium.

 

Selected solo exhibitions include “In Search of Humanity”, Albertina Modern, Vienna (Austria, 2022); “Liberty of Doubt”, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (UK, 2022); “Intertwine”, Serralves Museum, Porto, Portugal, 2021; “Defend the Future”, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea (MMCA), Seoul (Korea, 2021); “Rapture”, Cordoaria Nacional, Lisbon (Portugal, 2021); “Ai Weiwei: Trace, Skirball Cultural Center”, Los Angeles (USA, 2021); “Year of the Rat”, Tang Contemporary Art, Bangkok (Thailand, 2020), “RAIZ” OCA exhibition space, Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo; Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janiero (Brazil, 2019) etc.

 

Selected group exhibitions include “A Dream Within a Dream”, Tang Contemporary Art, Bangkok (Thailand, 2022); “A Century of the Artist’s Studio, 1920-2020”, Whitechapel Gallery, London (UK,2022); “Truc à faire”, Galleria Continua, Paris (France, 2021); “Inaugural Installations: Kinder Building”, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,TX (USA, 2020); “Facing the Collector. The Sigg Collection of Contemporary Art from China”, Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Torino (Italy, 2020); “Racket of Cobwebs”, Tang Contemporary Art, Hong Kong, China, 2020; “Mobile Immobile”, Archives Nationales Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (France, 2019); “2050, A Brief History of the Future”, National Taiwan Museum of Art, Taichung, (Taiwan, 2018), etc.

 

In 2019, Ai Weiwei won the GQ Magazine Men of the Year 2019 award in the artist category. His largest exhibition to date “RAIZ” is also the highest-ranking show by a single artist in The Art Newspaper visitor figures survey for 2019.

Inquire
bottom of page