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Statements in Ceramics

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Ai Weiwei, Rulebreaker

No stranger to controversy, Ai Wei Wei is preoccupied with breaking limits, literally. Not only does he smash 2000-year-old Han Dynasty vases, he paints them. This audacious and idiosyncratic artistic blasphemy has made him one of the world’s most-loved and revered contemporary artists.

This month, the Gardiner Museum hosts Ai Weiwei: Unbroken, an exhibition of classic and recent works that provide a neat overview of Weiwei’s career to date. Classic pieces such as Coca Cola Vase are on view, as is a hip-high pile of ceramic sunflower seeds, including some of the 100 million sunflower seeds that carpeted London’s Tate Modern in 2010. Each ceramic husk was hand-painted in China’s porcelain capital, Jingdezhen, making each one of these seemingly-cloned objects unique. The exhibition also includes the international debut of a LEGO-based series depicting animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Often whimsical, always daring, Weiwei’s work asks us to consider what we hold sacred. It might make you consider ceramics in a whole new way.

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