According to What? by Ai Weiwei, Tokyo
It was back in our June Made in China issue that we first got in with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. As well as visiting his studio, we worked with this prolific creator, best known for his work with Herzog and de Meuron on the Beijing National Stadium or ’Bird’s Nest’, on our limited edition June cover.
Weiwei’s latest international outing comes in the form of a one man retrospective in Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum. Entitled, According to What?, the exhibition features 26 works produced between 1990 and now.
Moving back to China in 1993 after 12 years in the US, Weiwei’s work finds influence in everything from Dada to Postmodernism and Pop Art (the name of the show is taken from a Jasper Johns painting).
With a strong emphasis on big ideas and careful metaphor the work on show includes a giant cube constructed from compressed Chinese tea, a porcelain bowl filled with fresh water pearls, a three-legged table and a map of China made from wood taken from the dismantled Qing Dynasty temples.
Subtle, ironic and a lot less introspective than much other Chinese art of Weiwei’s generation, According to What? is an elegant expression of Weiwei’s off-kilter take on the world.