Bamboo in Chinese Art
Ai Weiwei is one of China's most famous artists. He was a design consultant on the iconic Bird's Nest Stadium at the Olympics and he has been a brave critic of the Chinese Olympics. It was he who denounced Steven Spielberg for his participation in the opening ceremonies. He lived in New York for 12 years and returned to China in 1993 and has since become a big media star, blogger and international artist.
Now he has a show in London which uses his Chinese background in a contemporary way. The structure with chairs is a sculpture made out of bamboo. It is a smaller version of a huge piece that is on display at the Venice Biennale now.
Much has been written in TreeHugger about the many qualities of bamboo. It is the basis of ancient and modern China. From furniture to chopsticks to scaffolding in the construction industry it is used everywhere. This piece is a claustrophobic installation of tottering bamboo sticks. Among the bamboo struts there is a strange assortment of chairs and stools sprouting from the poles.
This piece celebrates the bicycles which are so much a part of Beijing's streets. They are soldered together so that they go around in circles with no end.
There is also a series of 24 photos of the Bird's Nest Stadium, taken over a 24 hour period. There is a history in Chinese art of depicting nature and the changing seasons. This view of the stadium from dawn to dawn is a contemporary version of that 3,000 year old tradition. Albion Gallery