Now, Portugal will have finally the great opportunity to get to know this contemporary artist and his work. Cordoaria Nacional, in Lisbon, will host an unprecedented exhibition by Ai Weiwei between June 4th and November 28th 2021.
Through "Rapture”, Ai Weiwei proposes to present the two creative dimensions of his life and work: reality and fantasy. As the exhibition’s curator, Marcello Dantas, explained, the concept behind "Rapture” focuses on the two dimensions of Ai Weiwei, the "artist-politician” and the "artist-spiritual”. Therefore, the exhibition will be presented in two wings of the Cordoaria Nacional, which intends to mirror exactly each of these dimensions.
Weiwei also brings to Lisbon some of his most iconic works, such as "Snake Ceiling” (2009), a large snake-shaped installation made up of hundreds of children's backpacks, in memory of the 5,000 students killed in the Sichuan earthquake, in 2008; and "Law of the Journey” (Prototype C) (2016), which consists of a 16-meter long inflatable boat with more than 300 faceless human figures and alludes to one of the most recurring themes in the artist's work: the global crisis of refugees.
On the other hand, in the wing that focuses on the mystical and spiritual dimension, Ai Weiwei explores his work as an "archaeologist of ancestral techniques”, as the curator explained. Ai Weiwei seeks to rescue local traditions and techniques by revisiting them and giving them a more contemporary look. This work of cultural archaeology is also one of the pillars of the artist's work, and for that reason the show will also feature original works produced in Portugal and inspired by Portuguese local artisanal traditions and techniques.
Ai Weiwei has been established in Portugal for a few months and he is fascinated by the Portuguese local culture and craft, especially when it comes to the materials and techniques used in Portuguese ceramics and tiles, as well as works in cork and wood.
During the show at Cordoaria Nacional, there will also be a cycle of documentaries about Ai Weiwei’s life and work.