After the seeds settle

Ai Weiwei is certainly no stranger to controversy or headlines. The Beijing-based artist was recently forced to cancel plans for his largest ever exhibition in China after being told it was too politically charged.

Last month, when his famous sunflower seeds – which carpet the floor of the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall – went up for auction at Christie’s more than a few eyebrows were raised at their selling price of £349 250 for 100 kilograms of the handmade seeds.

Ai Weiwei, Marble Chair, 2008. Marble, 120 x 56 x 46 cm. Courtesy the artist
Ai Weiwei, Marble Chair, 2008. Marble, 120 x 56 x 46 cm. Courtesy the artist

However, there’s a lot more to Ai than sunflower seeds and newspaper cuttings. 

His Sunflower Seeds work in the Turbine Hall features an interactive kiosk, designed by Cogapp, which allows visitors to communicate one-to-one with Ai about the installation, accompanying the website for the show, also created by Cogapp.

For those with their interest piqued, the forthcoming exhibition, simply entitled Ai Weiwei, proves to shed more light on the artist when it opens this May.

The show will feature a number of key works by the artist, including sculptural and video works, exploring the artist’s central theme of the tension in political ideology. In an interview with The Observer last October, Weiwei described this tension as ‘being between a more interesting state of mind and a more dreadful state of mind. The artist should be for the interesting against the dreadful.’

Ai Weiwei, Colored Vases, 2006. Neolithic vases (5000-3000 BC) and industrial paint, 51 pieces, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist
Ai Weiwei, Colored Vases, 2006. Neolithic vases (5000-3000 BC) and industrial paint, 51 pieces, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist

Greg Hilty of Lisson Gallery says, ‘We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring to a UK public a selection of key works that demonstrate the range and sensibility of Ai Weiwei.

‘Beautifully crafted, conceptually acute, poetically resonant, these works provide a concise overview of his concerns as an artist.’

Ai Weiwei is open from 13 May – 16 July at Lisson Gallery, 52-54 and 29 Bell Street, London, NW1. Sunflower Seeds can be seen at Tate Modern until 2 May 2011.

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