GRAPES – 2010
wooden stools (from the Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911)
210 x 190 x 188 cm
Visual artist, architect, designer, curator and outspoken activist: Ai Weiwei has a very broad outlook on what it means to be an artist. While living in New York from 1981 to 1993, Ai gained an in-depth knowledge of contemporary Western art. These were crucial years, but his life as an artist only truly began to unfold when he returned to China in 1993.
Ai Weiwei frequently employs the principle of the readymade, appropriating existing objects. Not only in this respect, but also in comments on his own cultural tradition does he follow in the footsteps of Duchamp. Ai’s sculptures often are made of porcelain or excisting materials, such as these old stools and he employs talented craftsmen for the making of his objects. They have produced the traditional wood joints by which this sculpture has been assembled. Ai Weiwei uses these ‘typically Chinese’ techniques to create both alienating and delightful works, which defy worn-out notions about culture and the values and connotations ascribed to it.