Ai Weiwei Colored Vases (2006)
Neolithic vases (5000-3000 BC) and industrial paint
51 pieces, dimensions variable
Courtesy the artist

From 13 May to 16 July 2011 Ai Weiwei will present a show of sculptural and video works at Lisson Gallery. This will be a chance to view a number of key works by the artist, one of the most significant cultural figures of his generation, both in China and internationally.

Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing, China, where he lives and works and in true renaissance man style, successfully occupies multiple roles not only as a conceptual artist but also architect, curator, designer, film-maker, publisher, and social and cultural critic. Following on from his landmark Unilever series commission Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern which finished only recently, the show will be his first at Lisson Gallery and will be held across both Bell Street spaces.

Greg Hilty of Lisson Gallery says, “We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring to a UK public a selection of key works that demonstrate the range and sensibility of Ai Weiwei. Beautifully crafted, conceptually acute, poetically resonant, these works provide a concise overview of his concerns as an artist.”

In many ways deeply political, Ai Weiwei’s work explores the tension in ideology, what he describes “as being between a more interesting state of mind and a more dreadful state of mind. The artist should be for the interesting against the dreadful.” Using a variety of formal languages with both traditional and innovative methods of production, Ai links the past with the present and explores the geopolitical, economic and cultural realities affecting the world with humour and compassion. Described as “the best artist to have appeared since the Cultural Revolution in China”, his work can be seen as a succession of gestures critiquing both commodity fetishism and the society in which he lives.

Lisson Gallery would also like it to be known that they are extremely alarmed by the detention of Ai Weiwei and his colleagues and are greatly concerned for his safety. Ai Weiwei is one of the leading cultural figures of his generation and consistently displays great courage in placing himself at risk to affect social change through his art. He serves as an example for legitimate social criticism and free expression both in China and internationally.  Lisson Gallery has a long history of working with political artists and we strongly condemn any form of artistic suppression. We will continue to support Ai Weiwei and are fully committed to staging his first solo exhibition at the gallery, opening 13 May 2011.

It should also be mentioned that not only will Ai Weiwei show at Lisson Gallery, but from 12 May to 26 June 2011, Somerset House will present Ai Weiwei’s first outdoor public sculpture installation in London. Circle of Animals | Zodiac Heads will also be the first ever contemporary art installation to go on display in the historic courtyard of Somerset House. The monumental installation will comprise 12 bronze animal heads which are re-creations of the traditional Chinese zodiac sculptures which once adorned the fountain of Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing.

Ai Weiwei at Lisson Gallery

13 May – 16 July 2011
52-54 and 29 Bell Street
London NW1 5DA

Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm

Ai Weiwei Beijing: The Second Ring (2005)
Video, January 14 – February 11 2005
1h 06min
Courtesy the artist

Ai Weiwei Monumental Junkyard (2007)
40 pieces each 6 x 213 x 91 cm, 20 pieces each 6 x 210 x 80cm
Glucksman Gallery
Courtesy the artist

Ai Weiwei Moon Chest (2008)
Huanghuali wood
81 pieces, 320 x 160 x 80 cm
Mori Art Museum
Courtesy the artist

Ai Weiwei Surveillance Camera (2010)
Lisson Gallery
Courtesy the artist


Ai Weiwei, Lisson Gallery, Somerset House, Tate Modern,