PEQUI TREE, ROOTS, AND HUMAN FIGURES
Image: Ai Weiwei, Mutuophagia (2018)
Museum: 23 July 2021 – 5 February 2022
Park: 23 July 2021 – 9 July 2022
Ai Weiwei (Beijing, 1957) is a global citizen, artist, thinker and activist who uses various modes of analysis and production in his work, depending on the direction and results of the investigation currently occupying him: the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan (in works such as Straight[Reto], 2008–12, or Remembering [Remember], 2009); the global crisis of refugees and forced migrants (in the sculpture Law of the Journey and in the documentary Human Flow, a feature film, both from 2017); or, more recently, the isolation of Wuhan, China, during the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic in the spring of 2020 (the feature film Coronation, 2020; Cockroach [Barata], 2020, which documents the fight for democracy in Hong Kong, and lastly, Rohingya, 2021, his latest documentary that again tackles the theme of refugees, focusing now on the Rohingya people.
From iconoclastic positions to authority and history—which included the triptych Dropping to the Han Dynasty Urn, 1995, and a series of photographs titled Study of Perspective (1995—2011). ), in which he shows the middle finger to symbols of power — his production has diversified to include architecture, public art and performance. In addition to considerations of form and protest, Ai Weiwei currently measures our existence according to the relationship with economic, political, natural and social forces, uniting workshop dexterity and conceptual creativity. Universal symbols of humanity and community, such as bicycles, flowers or trees, as well as the eternal problems of borders and conflicts are reformulated and enhanced through installations, sculptures, films and photographs, while Ai continues to speak out publicly on issues that you believe are important. He is one of the most prominent cultural figures of his generation and an example of freedom of expression, both in China and internationally.
The works on display — Iron Roots (2019) and Pequi Tree (2018 – 2020) — are part of a body of work that reflects Ai Weiwei’s interest and concern with the environment and, more specifically, with the deforestation of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.
The exhibition in Serralves, designed specifically for the Park and the Museum’s central room, is curated by Philippe Vergne and Paula Fernandes, with the support of the artist’s studio and Lisson Gallery, London, and neugerriemschneider, Berlin.