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.