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Ai Weiwei, Edmund de Waal

The Precious Clay (group show)
The Museum of Royal Worcester, Worcester
20 August 2018 – March 2019

Edmund de Waal, In Time II, 2017 © Edmund de Waal. Photo: Mike Bruce
Edmund de Waal, In Time II, 2017 © Edmund de Waal. Photo: Mike Bruce

Meadow Arts and the Museum of Royal Worcester present an exhibition exploring contemporary art and porcelain, The Precious Clay. The exhibition will examine why and how artists choose to use this legendary material in their practice. With its origins in the Far East and a long global history, porcelain holds rich associations of preciousness, mutability and exoticism: the artists’ work responds to these associations in lively and inventive ways.

The Museum of Royal Worcester, Worcester


Additional:

Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal Installation (solo show)
The Frick Collection, New York
30 May - 10 November 2019

Portrait of Edmund de Waal. Photo: Ben McKee © Edmund de Waal
Portrait of Edmund de Waal. Photo: Ben McKee © Edmund de Waal

Next year, The Frick Collection will present a temporary installation of sculptures by acclaimed author and ceramist Edmund de Waal. Site-specific works made of porcelain, steel, gold, marble, and glass will be displayed in the museum's main galleries alongside works from the permanent collection.

De Waal is known for his installations of porcelain vessels housed in minimal structures, often created in response to collections and archives or the history of a specific place. Past sites have included Waddesdon Manor and the Chatsworth house — this project marks his first such installation in the United States.

The presentation, curated by Charlotte Vignon, Curator of Decorative Arts, is the latest in a series of collaborations with de Waal and The Frick Collection. He is a coauthor, with Vignon, of an upcoming volume in the Frick Diptych series, which focuses on a pair of porcelain candelabras with gilt-bronze mounts by Pierre Gouthière, the great French eighteenth-century chaser-gilder. In 2013, in conjunction with the Frick Art Reference Library’s Center for the History of Collecting, de Waal lectured about his award-winning family memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010). A fully illustrated catalogue, featuring installation views and essays by Vignon and de Waal, will be available in early summer.

The Frick Collection, New York


Ai Weiwei

Everything is art. Everything is politics (solo show)
Kunstsammlung NRW, Düsseldorf
Mid-May - 1 September 2019

Ai Weiwei © Studio Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei © Studio Ai Weiwei

Edmund de Waal

psalm (solo show)
To coincide with the 58th Venice Biennale
Canton Scuola Synagogue / Ateneo Veneto, Venice
7 May – 29 September 2019

British artist and author, Edmund de Waal will be the first contemporary artist to create a major work for the Ghetto in Venice which will be unveiled during the preview week of the Venice Biennale, opening on 7th May 2019.
The exhibition is called psalm and will be in two parts.

The first is located in the Canton Scuola, the beautiful 16th century synagogue in the Ghetto Nuovo, which is now part of the Jewish Museum. New installations of porcelain, marble and gold will reflect the literary and musical heritage of this extraordinary place. For the first time the Women’s Gallery within the synagogue will hold contemporary art. The intention is to animate spaces that are little known and little understood by visitors to the Biennale and to bring new audiences into the Ghetto.

The second part of the work will be a pavilion based at the Ateneo Veneto, the fifteenth-century building near the Fenice Opera House that has been an historic centre for cultural debate in Venice. Here, Edmund de Waal is constructing a small building within the main space that will house 2000 books by exiled writers, from Ovid to the present day.

All the books will be in translation, reflecting the idea of language as migration. Four vitrines of porcelain vessels, based on Daniel Bomberg’s famous Renaissance printing of the Talmud, will hang on the walls amongst the books. The structure itself will have an exterior coated with porcelain, laid over gold leaf, into which de Waal will inscribe the names of the lost libraries of the world. Inside there will be spaces to sit and read. It will be a place of contemplation and a place of dialogue.

Throughout the Biennale there will be a rich programme of events, performances, readings, conversations and debate. The intention is to bring the experiences of contemporary writers in exile into focus and to celebrate the works in translation. There will also be events that focus on the cultures of Jewish Venice, on the Psalms, on contemporary poetry and on publishing.

Edmund de Waal said: “This is the project I have always dreamed of doing. It is about exile - what it means to have to move to another country, to speak another language. It brings new installations based on the Psalms, the poetry of exile, into some of the most beautiful spaces of the Ghetto, the first time some of these spaces have been used for contemporary art. And my library for the Ateneo - two thousand books within a porcelain-covered pavilion - will be the most significant sculpture of my life. It will be a new library reflecting Venice’s thousand years as a place of translation, a space to sit and read and be.”

Edmund de Waal website


Ai Weiwei

Unbroken (solo show)
The Gardiner Museum, Toronto
28 February - 9 June 2019

Ai Weiwei, Zodiac, 2018 © Studio Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei, Zodiac, 2018 © Studio Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is one of the world’s most influential artists and human rights activists, as well as one of China’s most formidable critics. Known for smashing conventions—and ceramics—with iconic works like Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, he upends the cultural traditions and materials of his native China.

This highly-anticipated and timely exhibition explores the breaking of boundaries, both physical and symbolic, and considers how the artist’s ceramic works form a basis for his ongoing exploration of urgent social justice themes, including immigration, freedom of speech, and the repression of dissent.

Ai Weiwei: Unbroken features iconic works, including Sunflower Seeds and Coca Cola Vase, as well as recent works in blue-and-white porcelain that depict the global refugee crisis. The exhibition also marks the international debut of a new large-scale LEGO series representing the Chinese zodiac.

The Gardiner Museum, Toronto


Edmund de Waal

breath (solo show)
Ivorypress, Madrid
20 February - 11 May 2019

Edmund de Waal, some gold across the water I, 2018 © Edmund de Waal
Edmund de Waal, some gold across the water I, 2018 © Edmund de Waal

On 20 February 2019 Ivorypress will present breath, a project created by British artist and writer Edmund de Waal for Ivorypress.

Breath is an invitation for Edmund de Waal to work across Ivorypress’s three different spaces: the publishing house, the exhibition space, and the bookshop. At the heart of this project is an artist’s book, published by Ivorypress: a project that has spanned many years, looking hard into what books are, how they feel and their presence in the world. It is an homage to Romanian-born poet Paul Celan, a book about slowing down. To accompany the artist’s book de Waal has made a series of seventeen new works, including vitrines, shelves, and diptychs conceived as open books, which take inspiration from the Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán and the writer Federico García Lorca, and also from Celan. There is porcelain, marble and gilding; there is gold leaf and platinum acknowledging the silver dishes on Zurbarán’s paintings. There are objects hidden from view and there are repetitions. Alongside these works there will be a reading room, a selection of one hundred books inviting visitors to sit down and read. The artist’s book, the exhibition, and the reading room are conceived as a joint project.

The artist’s book comprises three parts: an atlas folio book reminding us of a medieval bible, printed in an edition of six books (plus two artist’s proofs and one HC), that is held within a wooden box that unfolds into a lectern for the book to stand on. Within the box there is a drawer with a small onyx shelf in it, another lectern, which holds paper-thin, translucent porcelain tiles with handwritten fragments of Celan’s poems inscribed by de Waal.

The choice of materials plays an important role in the creation of the book. De Waal establishes a parallelism between the history of porcelain and the history of paper, two materials that have travelled the world, both beginning in China and Japan, and coming to Europe through the Silk Road. Using papers from the Far East, Germany, and the UK, the book narrates that journey as you turn the pages— a history from the East to the West. Breath is also a celebration of bookmaking: the craft of letterpress printers, papermakers, and binders using traditional methods. The artist has collected medieval manuscripts previously used for binding, and has reused them inside the spine of this book. Working with different craftsmen on the making of this book has become part of the DNA of the project.

Edmund de Waal has written a new text about Celan and has chosen a selection of his poems to include in the book. He explores the idea that books are palimpsests: as we read and reread, we re-create texts. Breath is de Waal’s rewriting for Celan; he has brushed kaolin (the prime material for porcelain) over parts of Celan’s poems so that they are whitened out, and then he has rewritten his words by hand. Porcelain is de Waal’s way of using white in the world. The book contains poems by Paul Celan, words by Edmund de Waal, and beautiful white spaces, empty pages—pages brushed with porcelain slip— all kinds of different silences within one book. In the words of the artist:

‘For the last years my studio has been full of papers, liquid porcelain, scribbled poems on walls, gold leaf and vellum fragments. And I’ve made a book for Celan. It uses four different papers, each of a different weight, and a different whiteness. They pace the book, so that you move and turn at different speeds. A book of different kinds of breath. A book that becomes a breathing in and out—as you move between the lighter and heavier papers, the text repeating itself. His poems are here in German and in English translation, sometimes printed opposite each other, sometimes overlapping. You see the shadow of one poem on another. It is letterpress so that you are aware of the pressure of the type, the bite of words, “the dance of two words”. Breath is an attempt to make a book worthy of Celan, using porcelain, paper, marble, vellum, ink, gold. And words. To feel and sound his poems again’.

Ivorypress



Edmund de Waal

The Gomes Lecture (lecture)
Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
15 February 2019, 5:30pm

Portrait of Edmund de Waal. Photo: Ben McKee © Edmund de Waal
Portrait of Edmund de Waal. Photo: Ben McKee © Edmund de Waal

The annual Gomes Lecture, at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, will this year be delivered by Edmund de Waal. The lecture series, established in 1997 by Kenneth R. and Cynthia Wight Rossano, of Boston, Massachusetts, and their daughter Mary Penelope King Rossano – a graduate of Harvard and Cambridge – was inaugurated a gift to the College in admiration of the late Reverend Professor Peter J. Gomes of Harvard University, Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College. Previous lecturers include Neil McGregor, Sandy Nairne, and Professor Alison Richard.

Edmund de Waal Website

Emmanuel College, Cambridge


Ai Weiwei

CHINESE WHISPERS: Recent Art from the Sigg Collection (group show)
MAK, Vienna
30 January - 26 May 2019

Ai Weiwei, Descending Light With a Missing Circle, 2017 © Studio Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei, Descending Light With a Missing Circle, 2017 © Studio Ai Weiwei

With CHINESE WHISPERS: Recent Art from the Sigg Collection a comprehensive exhibition on Chinese contemporary art is coming to Vienna. Uli Sigg has been following the development of contemporary art in China since the late 1970s. In the mid-1990s, he started putting together the world’s most significant and representative collection of Chinese art. A business journalist, entrepreneur, and Swiss ambassador to China, North Korea, and Mongolia (1995–1998), he had the chance to take a look behind the scenes of the social and economic developments dedicated to both tradition and the future, as China’s vision of a new Silk Road shows. Cultural and sociopolitical values form the frame of reference of the MAK exhibition. The museum creates a discursive platform by contrasting works from the Sigg Collection with objects from the MAK Collection. This interplay highlights China’s contemporary art production as well as its aesthetic or iconographic references. The historical object becomes a vision machine for the contemporary.

MAK, Vienna


Ai Weiwei

Life Cycle (solo show)
Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
28 September 2018 - 3 March 2019

Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds (detail), 2010 © Studio Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds (detail), 2010 © Studio Ai Weiwei

Marciano Art Foundation is pleased to announce the next MAF Project, a solo exhibition of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, on view from September 28, 2018 - March 3, 2019. This exhibition is Ai’s first major institutional exhibition in Los Angeles and will feature the new and unseen work Life Cycle (2018) – a sculptural response to the global refugee crisis. The exhibition will also present iconic installations Sunflower Seeds (2010) and Spouts (2015) within the Foundation’s Theater Gallery.

“We are honored and thrilled to be able to host Ai Weiwei’s first institutional presentation in Los Angeles says Maurice Marciano, founder of Marciano Art Foundation. "Ai Weiwei's long history as a thoughtful, engaged, and provocative artist falls directly in line with the goals of the Foundation. We are so thrilled to be a part of his big moment happening in our city this fall."

On view for the first time in the Black Box, Life Cycle (2018) references the artist’s 2017 monumental sculpture Law of the Journey, Ai’s response to the global refugee crisis, which used inflatable, black PVC rubber to depict the makeshift boats used to reach Europe. In this new iteration, Life Cycle depicts an inflatable boat through the technique used in traditional Chinese kite-making, exchanging the PVC rubber for bamboo.
Suspended around the boat installation are figures crafted from bamboo and silk. In 2015, Ai began creating these figures based on mythic creatures from the Shanhaijing, or Classic of Mountains and Seas. The classic Chinese text compiles mythic geography and myth; versions of the Shanhaijing have existed since the 4th century B.C. These works are crafted in Weifang, a Chinese city in Shandong province with a tradition of kite-making dating back to the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

Windows (2015), which hangs along the perimeter of the Black Box, draws from Chinese mythology, the tales and illustrations of the Shanhaijing, the history of 20th-century art, and the life and works of the artist. The vignettes feature a dense mix of biographical, mythological, and art historical references to craft a contemporary story. Similar to chapters in a book, or acts in a play, the various scenes include the mythological creatures of the Shanhaijing alongside bamboo versions of Ai’s earlier works, such as Template and Bang, and homages to Marcel Duchamp and Jasper Johns. A central theme running through the ten vignettes is freedom of speech and Ai’s efforts in defending it. Motifs recurring in Ai’s practice—the bicycle, the alpaca, symbols of state surveillance and control—are repeated and multiplied.

This multifaceted installation is a continuation of Ai’s ongoing engagement with politics and social justice. It follows the release of his feature-length documentary, Human Flow (2017), which depicts the refugee crisis on film. In the artist’s op-ed for the Guardian in February 2018, he writes, “I was a child refugee. I know how it feels to live in a camp, robbed of my humanity. Refugees must be seen as an essential part of our shared humanity.”

In the Theater Gallery, Sunflower Seeds (2010), is composed of 49 tons of individual porcelain sunflower seeds made by 1600 artisans from an ancient porcelain production center in Jingdezhen, in China’s Jiangxi province. This installation further expands upon reoccurring themes, such as authenticity, the individual’s role in society, geopolitics of cultural and economic exchange. The work also brings to mind the propaganda posters of the Cultural Revolution, depicting Mao Zedong as the sun and the citizens as sunflowers turning toward him.

Spouts (2015) piles together thousands of antique teapot spouts dating as far back to the Song dynasty (960–1279). Following Ai’s practice of repetition and multiplication, Spouts can be seen as a metaphor for a mass of mouths, and a widespread yearning for freedom of speech despite its continuing restriction throughout many societies. Spouts was previously exhibited in Galleria Continua in Beijing, the 21er Haus in Vienna, and the Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul. This is the first time the complete work is on view.

Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle will be accompanied by an illustrated publication, the third in MAF’s Project Series featuring an essay written by mythologist, writer, and professor Martin Shaw.

Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles