Entitled Overrated, this exhibition finds Ai WeiWei grappling with history, challenging authority, and reanimating classical mythology to address the abuses of power that shape our present.
Several of the works in Ai’s exhibition make reference to the travel restrictions and surveillance imposed on the artist following his 2011 detention.
In response to the Chinese government’s confiscation of his passport, starting on November 13, 2012, the artist began the everyday practice of placing a bouquet in a bicycle basket outside his Beijing studio, using vivid floral profusions to mock stale, bureaucratic power. Bicycle Basket with Flowers in Porcelain (2015), (pictured above) a delicate, remarkably precise sculpture created in the imperial kilns of Jingdezhen, commemorates this daily act of protest.
With these new works on show in the exhibition, the artist once again looks back toward traditional forms and materials in order to address contemporary conditions, focusing here on the continuities between the ancient world and our present one—the confused psychology of mythmaking and the political gains made by the invention of monsters. Reflecting on these primal impulses undiminished by modernity, the artist observes,
People have always imagined another world parallel to reality, using creatures to reflect their fantasies and fears. Even today, we are facing a world that we suddenly realize we don’t really understand. We’ve gotten lost on many, many occasions. So the conditions of the human mind have never really changed.
Yet, it is precisely the possibility of change—the potential in each of us to see clearly and without fear—that drives the artist onward.
AI WEIWEI: OVERRATED
Exhibition Dates: April 28 – July 2, 2016
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 28, 2016, from 5:30 – 7:30pm
49 Geary Street, Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94108