Artist and activist – Ai Weiwei’s collaborations on global architecture projects
At a recent Royal Academy event architect Daniel Rosbottom compared Ai Weiwei’s use of brick in his buildings with the sunflower seeds in the famous Tate Modern installation: “each brick is different, but also part of a multitude”. Ai’s poetic sensibility in the way he uses materials can be evidenced at RA’s retrospective, on until December 13, where a small separate exhibition tells the story of the studio and home he designed in the Beijing suburb of Caochangdi for himself and the series of brick houses around it.
With Swiss architect Simon Hartmann and expert on Chinese art Philip Tinari, Rosbottom spoke about architecture as part of Ai’s art and activism, drawing parallels with minimalism in the way the buildings make you think about spatial volumes. As Rosbottom points out the debt to artists like Donald Judd might be unconscious, but the play with proportion and spatial tension is similar.