If you’re down in Melbourne and trying to find something to do this summer, I recommend seeing the Andy Warhol x Ai Weiwei exhibition. Even if art isn’t your thing, it’s still a joyous experience that will leave a lasting impression when you exit the doors…or maybe I’m a little bit too biased because I love Warhol but seriously, most of my friends went here last month and seemed to have enjoyed it (as evident in their Facebook and Instagram photos) and so did my Mom!
To be honest I had no clue what the exhibition was about. I thought it might’ve been a series of commissioned paintings that Weiwei and Warhol did together. It actually was not. The exhibition features Warhol’s iconic works taken directly from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh mirrored with Weiwei’s 21st century works – it’s a contrast between American culture and Chinese culture, with both artists drawing major inspiration from another artist, Marcel Duchamp.
What surprised me was that Ai Weiwei never met Warhol despite both being in New York at the same time in the 80s. Both are nearly the same age, only that Warhol was an established artist and Weiwei wasn’t. The first English book Weiwei read was “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol” which pretty much influenced Weiwei in his artistic ventures. What I got out of this gallery was that both lived two very different yet similar lives. Throughout the exhibition you’ll see the parallels between Beijing and New York City, both cities having such a large impact in their lives – Warhol was fascinated with Mainland China and visited Beijing whilst Weiwei was born in Beijing and lived in New York for 10 years.
A triptych featuring Ai Weiwei made in knock-off Lego blocks. Probably over 1,000 used for each panel?
These flying golden alpacas and red twitter birds is Weiwei’s 21st century interpretation of Warhol’s Silver Cloud installation from 1966. This interactive installation was hilarious!
The ‘Letgo room’. Weiwei’s commissioned piece for the NGV is a room featuring portraits and quotes of Australian human rights campaigners, again made entirely in fake Lego blocks.
The exhibition had a great mix of interactivity, loud evocative art coming in various forms and mediums such as photography, screen prints, sculptures, film and video. It ends in April so there’s still plenty of time to head over.