Ai Weiwei’s Roots Exhibition at the Lisson Gallery – Only until 2 Nov!

We have been huge fans of Ai Weiwei for many years. We find his art immediately intuitive and aesthetic, we love the versatility, the materials, (in many cases) the sheer physical scale, how he’s often at the forefront of what’s technically possible, and not least of all we love angry art and this feller is angrier than a dozen wives whose wedding anniversaries have been forgotten. Weiwei’s art always comes with a message, he’s risked more than most artists for his beliefs, suffered at the hands of the Chinese regime, but nothing will stop this one-man army. What’s even more: he doesn’t stop at the message and actively runs projects worldwide.


The Roots exhibition at Lisson Gallery mainly consists of giant, rusty iron sculptures cast from tree roots collected in Brazil for Weiwei’s biggest exhibition so far, which took place in São Paulo last year. To be more precise, the roots are from the endangered Pequi Vinagreiro tree, which gets cut down by the thousands to make way for pastures to produce steak for Western dinner tables while indigenous populations and the global climate perish.




Many of the exhibits look like mythical creatures, very intense. Where the light is right, the rust makes the pieces look as if they were glowing. We also enjoyed the other artworks such as Weiwei’s famous experiments with Lego.


There were also a number of dream-like vignettes and cloud-like figures, some dangling from the ceiling, others loosely attached to the walls, which contrasted nicely with the heavy iron sculptures, even though we didn’t find them that interesting in their own right.


We’ll definitely be back to Lisson Gallery for more soon. 5 out of 5 in our book. Don’t miss it.

Looking for more posts about art exhibitions? Check out our posts about Banksy’s Dismaland, Picasso at the National Portrait Gallery, or the immersive Leonardo experience at the National Gallery.

We also wrote about Lisbon, Nuremberg, the Cotswolds, and Canterbury.

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  1. As you saw on our post on Winnipeg, we saw the interesting Forever Bicycles art piece by Ai Weiwei. So I was drawn to check out this post and some of the other pieces by this artist. The roots pieces reminded me so much of driftwood art we are finding here on the west coast of Canada. But interesting that these roots are from the endangered Pequi Vinagreiro trees.

    1. Glad to see you hooked on Ai Weiwei too, Linda. He is one of our favourite artists. We were once very lucky to be able to join an ‘art walk’ with him and Anish Kapoor that went from West to East London and lasted for about three or four hours. There were only 25 other people in the group, so you got to watch them talk about their stuff quite closely. (Ellie & I were to scared to ask questions of our own.) 🙂 🙂

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