Andy Warhol + Ai Weiwei {@ NGV}

Andy Warhol + Ai Weiwei {@ NGV}

Andy Warhol + Ai Weiwei works come together for the first time to delight, distract and linger.  This exhibition will provide curious minds, aged 3 to 103, with much to ponder.  But best of all, this exhibition will make you smile.

When: 11 December 2015 – 24 April 2016, Open daily 10am-5pm.  In January 2016, open 10am–8pm.  Friday Nights at NGV open 6–10pm.

Where: NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, MELBOURNE

Cost: Adult $26 | Concession $22.50 | Child $10 | Family (2 adults, 3 children) $65 | Season Pass $65 book onlineAndy Warhol Ai Weiwei

This Summer the NGV shares a world first, the exploration of the intersect of Andy Warhol + Ai Weiwei.  This exhibition celebrates the influence of these two exemplary artists on modern art and contemporary life, focussing on the parallels, intersections and points of difference between the two artists’ practices. Surveying the scope of both artists’ careers, the exhibition at the NGV presents over 300 works, including major new commissions, immersive installations and a wide representation of paintings, sculpture, film, photography, publishing and social media.

As you approach the NGV you will be able to make out the shimmer of the five-meter tall Weiwei chandelier through the water wall.  And as you walk inside the NGV entrance this allusive beauty is quickly eclipsed by the enthralling installation by Weiwei, Forever Bicycles; the 1500 bikes stacked on top of and in front of each other, in a kind of bicycle Decoupage, almost seem to be rushing towards you. It is hard to believe that of all the versions of this particular installation this is only the second one to be visited by the artist himself (due to his political status in China limiting his ability to travel).

Weiwei equally dominates this exhibition with his costar, the world-famous, Warhol – and Weiwei’s presence at the media launch may have given me a slightly biased interest in him.  I guess some of my curiosity stems from wanting to know more, due to my very limited knowledge of his work to date (you see I have been under a bit of a cultural rock for the past 10 years).

What piqued my curiosity in Ai Weiwei was his more recent history.  When he returned to China in 1993 (after about 13 years in New York) to be closer to his aging father – he was feeling encouraged that China was going through some major political change.  After returning to China, there was a 10 year period he was both celebrated as an architect for the Beijing Olympics and also under serious government scrutiny, this “interest” was attributed to the fact that he started a politically critical blog in 2005.  Weiwei’s blog was shut down in 2009 and he was imprisoned (without charge)  for three months and then subsequently under house arrest for about 4 years, only having his passport returned in July 2015!

But enough back story, what you really want to know is: this exhibition is exciting.  Visitors aged 3 to 103 will all find plenty to take away from the works on display.  There are the iconic Warhol pieces, behind the scenes documentation and insights of studio life through drawing, sketches and video.  And from Weiwei there is as much to question as there is to delight.  I know between now and April 24 I will be making multiple visits – there is so much to distract and so much to take in.

Added to this fantastic experience is the FREE Studio Cats: Andy Warhol + Ai WeiWei For KIDS, read our review now.

Some background from the NGV media release:

Ai Weiwei lived in the United States from 1981 until 1993, where he experienced the works of Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, among others. The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again) was the first book that Ai Weiwei purchased in New York, and was a significant influence upon his conceptual approach. Ai Weiwei’s relationship to Warhol is explicitly apparent in a photographic self-portrait, taken in New York in 1987, in which Ai Weiwei poses in front of Warhol’s multiple self-portrait, adopting the same gesture.

Each artist is also recognised for his unique approach to notions of artistic value and studio production. Warhol’s Factory was legendary for its bringing together of artists and poets, film-makers and musicians, bohemians and intellectuals, ‘drag queens’, ‘superstars’ and socialites, and for the serial-production of silkscreen paintings, films, television, music and publishing.

The studio of Ai Weiwei is renowned for its interdisciplinary approach, post-industrial modes of production, engagement with teams of assistants and collaborators, and strategic use of communications technology and social media. Both artists have been equally critical in redefining the role of ‘the artist’ – asimpresario, cultural producer,activist and brand – and both are known for their keen observation and documentation of contemporary society and everyday life.