Considering I used to spend every weekend in an art gallery (in fairness I did work there) it’s been far too long since I last visited an exhibition.
On a sunny Saturday, in search of an afternoon of culture, I headed to the Royal Academy for their 2018 Summer Exhibition. Curated alongside Greyson Perry, this year’s exhibition was always going to be a splash of colour and design.
I love the way the Summer Exhibition is created, art is suddenly everywhere, a mix-match of style: landscapes and portraits, still life and photography. Even politics and brexit got a mention. It was full of expression, of discussion starters as it evaluated life in the here and now.
Everywhere you looked there was something to catch your attention. Larger works of art sitting loud and bright, smaller pieces that needed to be spotted, sculptures, textiles, models and videos.
There was even a bar.
This may be my first Summer Exhibition, but I’ll be back for 2019.
Ai Weiwei’s exhibition is a depiction of art and politics, presenting how one man through a variety of mediums can stand up to his beliefs.
The Royal Academy has produced this exhibition in such a way that a clear story can be felt through the artwork, not too obvious at first, yet as you make your way through the exhibition space, the message of a repressed, limiting and secretive society can be unearthed.
There were a few pieces that really struck me, the twisted bars to represent each child killed in the 2008 earthquake; flattered now but still holding scars in a slight curve or bent in the metal. It was unimaginable to believe that these children were not named nor represented by the Chinese government. Remarkable in number yet so simple and symbolic in Weiwei’s work.
It was these deliberate decision to ignore that alters to the drastic need to observe as you’re moved through the exhibition. It’s hard to imagine Weiwei’s artwork without the overshadowing nature of his own political beliefs. The security cameras made of ceramic portray this shattering line of reality and fear.
But what caught my the attention most had to be the recreated jail of Weiwei, held without reason and observed 24 hours a day. The parallel of it being included in the exhibition opened it up into two-way mirror, as we observed Weiwei’s own observation. It was overpowering and impossible to see how this happens in the modern world, making me reevaluate the freedom we hold in our county.
Ai Weiwei’s exhibition is on at the Royal Academy until 13th December, certainly worth a visit.