Ai Wei­wei de­lights at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace, Ox­ford­shire Show­ing from 1 Oc­to­ber - 14 De­cem­ber 2014

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ART ROUNDUP -

The newly formed Blenheim Art Foun­da­tion brings the most ex­ten­sive UK ex­hi­bi­tion to date by cel­e­brated Chi­nese artist and so­cial ac­tivist Ai Wei­wei. Open­ing at Blenheim Palace on 1 Oc­to­ber as the inau­gu­ral and launch ex­hi­bi­tion of the Blenheim Art Foun­da­tion, the ex­hi­bi­tion show­cases more than 50 art­works by Ai Wei­wei pro­duced over the last 30 years. Fea­tur­ing early pho­tog­ra­phy dat­ing to Ai’s time spent in New York in the 1980s through to new site-spe­cific works con­ceived in China es­pe­cially for the Palace, the show gives visi­tors the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence first­hand the breadth of the artist’s prac­tice, tak­ing place through­out Blenheim Palace.

A glob­ally-recog­nised so­cial ac­tivist, Ai Wei­wei has not been able to leave China since 2011 when his pass­port was con­fis­cated by Chi­nese author­i­ties. The ex­hi­bi­tion at Blenheim Palace is there­fore re­alised through a close col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the artist and the Blenheim Art Foun­da­tion team who have worked to­gether with 3D plans and mod­els of the site and grounds. New works re­alised for the Palace in­clude ‘Soft Ground (Great Hall)’, a site-spe­cific car­pet mea­sur­ing 4510cm by 200cm dis­played in the Great Hall; along­side hand-painted porce­lain plates with ‘free­dom flower’ de­tails in the China Ante Room and ‘Sun­flower Seed Stools’, also crafted in porce­lain.

Sem­i­nal art­works on dis­play will in­clude ‘Cir­cle of An­i­mals/Zo­diac Heads: Gold’ (2010). This is Ai Wei­wei’s rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the leg­endary bronze zo­diac head stat­ues that once sur­rounded the foun­tain-clock at Em­peror Yuan­ming Yuan’s Bei­jing im­pe­rial re­treat and ‘He Xie’ (2010) and fea­ture 2300 small porce­lain crabs pre­sented in the Red Draw­ing Room. The show will fea­ture 55 pho­to­graphs by Ai Wei­wei doc­u­ment­ing his time spent in New York 1983-1993 along­side ‘Mar­ble Sur­veil­lance Cam­era’ (2010), a poignant re­minder of Ai’s cur­rent sit­u­a­tion; ‘Slanted Ta­ble’ (1997), a re­con­fig­ured Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911) ta­ble; and ‘Map of China’, (2009) formed from wood re­claimed from tem­ples also dat­ing to the Qing Dy­nasty.

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