artist / participant
The Museum of Cycladic Art (MCA) in Athens presents a major exhibition with Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei at Cycladic is the artist’s first exhibition within an archeological museum and in the country of Greece. This exhibition introduces audiences to his practice through many of his significant works, placing them within the museums renowned collection. Ai Weiwei also unveils new works inspired by the permanent archeological collection of the museum.
The exhibition explores the artisti’s use of materials often associated with antiquity such as marble, as well as the craftsmanship and traditional techniques of wood. Through Ai Weiwei creates dialogue with ancient Cycladic art, giving poignancy to the display in an archeological museum.
The 25 artworks on display include celebrated works Grapes (2011), Divina Proportione (2012), Mask (2011), Cao (2014), as well as a new, unseen work inspired by the museum’s significant archeological collection.
Ai Weiwei’s collaboration with the MCA begun in 2015 and following the Museum’s invitation, the artist visited Athens as well as the island of Lesbos. He has since set up a studio on the island to create art that will draw attention to the refugee crisis in Greece. A number of new works will feature in Ai Weiwei at Cycladic, creating a true cross-cultural depiction of past, present and a universal hope for the future.
The MCA will be donating 10% of all exhibition proceeds to two NGOs; Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Greek NGO METAdrasi, who are providing valuable aid to the refugee crisis in Greece.
About Ai Weiwei
Born in Beijing in 1957, Ai Weiwei is one of the most significant and outspoken artists to emerge from China in recent decades. As an artist, architect, writer, filmmaker and political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese government’s stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, as well as the quality of human life in modern-day China. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing Capital International Airport on 3 April, he was held for 81 days without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of “economic crimes”. Upon his release, he was prohibited from traveling abroad, engaging in public speech, and was subjected to continued government surveillance. His passport was eventually returned to him in 2015.
Ai Weiwei is best known for his sculptures and large-scale installations, which conceptually marry traditional Chinese craft and modes of thought with contemporary political messages. In his sculptural works he often uses reclaimed materials such as ancient pottery, wood from destroyed temples, marble and jade, uniting past and present; the old China and the new. As well as engaging in many long-term research projects such as his ‘Citizens’ Investigation’ into the Sichuan Earthquake victims in 2008, Ai also served as artistic consultant on the design of the National “Bird’s Nest” Stadium for Beijing’s 2008 Olympics and has had major exhibitions and pavilions all around the world.