On Chinese Art

A couple of months back I went with my dear mother to a local exhibition of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. While looking at the pieces we also listened to the curator talking about them as well as the story of Ai Weiwei’s life and artistry.

Last Friday, me and my Honey went back for a final look before the exhibition closed down.

It’s been almost a week now and I still can’t let that exhibition go.

I’ve always loved Chinese and Japanese art, particularly the traditional/classical arts. It’s been a part of my life since I was a child, with a huge replica of a Chinese painted horse hanging on the living room wall in my family home. I guess that’s why I readily took to heart the course in Postcolonial Aesthetics that I took in College. The first thing we did was to focus on Chinese contemporary art and its history. What I learned then, as well as the artworks I studied, evidently stuck more than I thought, because when I a year later actually went to China I found myself using this “new” knowledge to get different perspectives of what we saw and experienced.

I’ve seen first-hand why Beijing Opera is so much different to western opera that they can’t even be compared. I’ve learned the difference between original Ming porcelain and the porcelain that was exported to the western world and Europe. I’ve seen traditional paintings, peasant art and contemporary art. I’ve experienced the culture and it’s put its mark on my heart.

I guess that’s why Ai Weiwei intrigues me so much. His art is contemporary while making use of traditional Chinese things. He’s used antique furniture, porcelaine pots of all sizes as well as the Chinese people themselves. He breaks apart, puts back together and transforms his props to make them be what he wants them to be. He takes help from skilled craftsmen (and women) to create his pieces – such as the piece Sunflower Seeds, where several tons of porcelain sunflower seeds were handmade in  a little village.

Every piece that he creates has a bit of history in it, not to mention critisism against the Chinese society and the government. The individual is always a part of his work and I like that you can see that. Okay, you may have to know a bit about Chinese history and culture to really see it, but I don’t think it’s all that neccessary. I think anyone can appreciate the craftsmanship in his art, because it’s so meticulous and produced with a lot of heart.

If I could make one wish, it would be to actually meet the man and discuss art and philosophy ^^ I think he has a lot to teach about individuality and standing up for oneself. Perhaps someday after he’s released from house arrest I will get the chance.

A little different post than usual, but hey, I promised you philosophical rambles, didn’t I? 😉