The Art of Ai Weiwei at the AGO (and an interesting bit about his love of cats)


As I mentioned on Thursday, here, I went to see the art of Ai Weiwei at the Art Gallery of Ontario last Friday. The show is called ‘According to What’ and will be in Toronto for a 10 week run ending October 27th. (If you’d like, you can read about this Chinese artist on his Wiki page here.)

To fill you in and account for why these pictures show so few people when the show is sure to be quite crowded for its entire 10 week run, I had the good fortune of going to a dedicated ‘members and their guests preview showing’ on the first day the exhibit opened here, invited by my friend Meghan.

A nice part about this show is that viewers were allowed to take pictures, so as a Spoiler Alert I should begin by saying that I am posting photos of the art that is on display.






And since I’m all about the pictures, I’ll leave the detailed written descriptions about the art and its meaning to other writers …

If you’re interested you can read this write-up on the National Post Newspaper site that specifically discusses the same show I saw and goes into detail about the individual pieces.

I also found this blog post by a wood-sculptor who saw the show in Washington DC. His particular interest is in wood so the focus of his excellent article is to tell the story behind these following wooden pieces.

My discussion is but a tiny part of what there is to be said about this artwork and there is plenty to be found about Ai Weiwei and his tremendous work on the internet.

Ai Weiwei hired skilled Chinese craftsmen to make his wooden pieces from material salvaged from ancient temples.


↑ This sphere contains no nails, rather relying on traditional methods of joining wood.↑


↑ This piece is made from beams from a Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) Temple and has a map of China cut-out that runs the entire length. ↑


↑ A sphere is made from 40 antique stools also from the Qing Dynasty and is called ‘Grapes’. ↑



↑ The individual wooden pieces for this work are re-stacked differently every time the show is mounted. ↑



↑ These cabinets with holes cut out of them is called Moon Chest, and if you look through the holes there is a way to see all the phases of the moon. ↑


↑ This piece, called Straight, includes some of the rebar that was straightened after being taken from the actual schools that collapsed during the Szechuan earthquake in 2008, killing more than 5,000 school children. ↑

As a result of his efforts to account for all the dead children, the significance of which the Chinese government was attempting to downplay, Ai Weiwei was very badly beaten and sent to jail for 81 days in 2011.


↑ This snake, which crawls along the ceiling in the lobby of the gallery was made of backpacks also represents the children who died during the quake. ↑


↑ These porcelain crabs were made by people in a financially depressed Chinese town, giving them something to do and keeping the traditional way of working with the medium alive. ↑


↑ This sculpture made from discarded bicycle parts is a commentary on the degree to which people have moved from using bikes for transportation to using cars in China.





And since my article is being posted on a Caturday, the day of the week usually reserved for stories about my cat Eddie, and various guests of other cats and sometimes dogs, it is fitting that I tell you this interesting fact about the artist Ai Weiwei. He cares for more than 40 cats at his studio. Wouldn’t that be fun?!


↑ Photo by Matthew Niederhauser


Thanks very much for visiting. I hope you have a great weekend. We don’t have much at all planned, so we’ll see what comes up.
xo loulou