Ai Weiwei Trifecta: Three Exhibitions to See Now!
Heads up, residents of The Pearl! Chinese-born artist Ai Weiwei is premiering a trio of shows in Los Angeles that absolutely can’t be missed! One of the world’s most influential contemporary artists and a political activist, in 2011 Ai Weiwei was arrested in Beijing and held for 81 days without any official charges being filed. During his ensuing years of domestic house arrest, the Chinese government surrounded Ai Weiwei’s studio in Beijing with over twenty cameras, recording his activities twenty-four hours a day. These events have informed Ai Weiwei’s art with unforgettable imagery that exposes the plight of the poor, the displaced, and the powerless. Since being allowed to leave China in 2015, he has been living in Berlin with his family.
Marciano Art Foundation (MAF)
4357 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90010
This marks Ai Weiwei’s first major institutional exhibition in Los Angeles and will feature the new and unseen work Life Cycle (2018) – a sculptural response to the global refugee crisis. On view for the first time in the MAF’s sunken Black Box gallery, Life Cycle (2018) references the artist’s 2017 monumental sculpture Law of the Journey, which used inflatable, black PVC rubber to depict the makeshift boats used by refugees to reach Europe. In this new iteration, Life Cycle depicts an inflatable boat through the technique used in traditional Chinese kite-making, exchanging the PVC rubber for bamboo. The exhibition will also present Ai Wewei’s iconic installations Sunflower Seeds (2010) and Spouts (2015) in the Foundation’s Theater Gallery.
While you’re at MAF, be sure to see Yayoi Kusama, With All my Love For the Tulips, I Pray Forever (2011). Pioneering multimedia artist Yayoi Kusama’s work has transcended some of the most important art movements of the second half of the 20th century, including pop art and minimalism. In a unique style that is both sensory and utopian, Kusama’s work—which spans paintings, performances, room-size presentations, sculptural installations, literary works, film, fashion, and design – has connected profoundly with audiences around the globe.
Admission to the Marciano Art Foundation is free of charge. Timed tickets are available online and we highly recommend checking reservation availability in advance of your visit.
Jeffrey Deitch Gallery
925 N Orange Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Former MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch is back in town, and recently opened his eponymous Los Angeles gallery with Zodiac, a museum-scale exhibition of new and historic works by Ai Weiwei. The center of the space is filled by one of the artist’s most remarkable works, Stools (2013), comprised of 5,929 wooden stools from the Ming and Qing dynasties and the Republican period, gathered from villages across northern China. Complementing the stools is a new series of Zodiac works composed from thousands of plastic LEGO bricks. The set of twelve works incorporates imagery deriving from his sculpture series Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads (2010).
The back wall of the gallery is covered in a deceptively decorative wallpaper, The Animal That Looks Like a Llama But is Really an Alpaca (2015). What from a distance looks like French eighteenth-century ormolu becomes, upon closer inspection, ominous arrays of surveillance cameras, as Ai Weiwei draws upon his personal experience under government surveillance to comment on the encroaching surveillance state both in China and in the West. Gallery hours: 11AM Tues-Sat. Closed Sunday & Monday.
UTA Artist Space
403 Foothill Rd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Another Ai Weiwei first for Los Angeles, the new UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills was designed by the aritst himself – the only architectural project he has undertaken in the United States. The exhibition Humanity, a new collective performance project by Ai Weiwei, is a global campaign in reaction to the tens of millions displaced by war, famine and climate crises, and gives a personal and group voice in support of the idea that humanity is one. Visitors have the opportunity to record a reading of an excerpt from Ai’s book Humanity in the gallery. Those messages will then be collected and presented publicly at UTA Artist Space through a video projection updated daily.
The companion portion Cao, which means “grass” in Mandarin, presents a wide range of Ai Weiwei’s most iconic dissident work. We are reminded that there is no plant more abused by us than grass, which, even when lovingly cared for, is always being chopped up and trampled on, or insulted by preening neighbors. And yet grass is everywhere, ubiquitous, endlessly resilient and quietly beautiful.