A perfect pairing of two great artists’ work has resulted in the largest display of Andy Warhol’s work to ever come to Melbourne, and a selection of world-first new commissions by one of the most significant contemporary artists and activists of our time, Ai Weiwei, inAndy Warhol | Ai Weiwei, now open at NGV International.
It is the largest international exhibition that the NGV has opened, and houses rare and never-before-seen Warhol works and as well as five new commissions by Ai Weiwei, who was in Melbourne to launch the exhibition last week.
One of the new commissions by Ai Weiwei, Letgo Room, which incorporates more than two million plastic building blocks featuring portraits of twenty Australian activists, advocates and champions of human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of information and freedom of the internet. Portrait subjects include Julian Assange, Geoffrey Robertson QC, Peter Greste, Professor Gillian Triggs, Rosie Batty, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, Archie Roach, Julian Burnside AO QC and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks.
Ai Weiwei announced at the opening of Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei that he will make Letgo Room, 2015 his gift to the National Gallery of Victoria.
The work was commission by the NGV especially for the exhibition, and in weeks leading up to launch, a team of local volunteers and arts students installed the portraits on Ai’s behalf.
The work represents Ai’s long-standing commitment to freedom of expression and human rights, which is variously manifest in his work as an artist, social commentator, activist and public intellectual.
These works sit alongside spectacular new projects by Ai Weiwei including the awe-inspiring installation of 1500 bicycles from his Forever Bicyclesseries, which we were lucky enough to watch being put together – it’s a breathtaking installation of nearly 1500 tessellating bicycles. There is also a sparkling five metre-tall work from Ai’s Chandelier series – an imposing chandelier made of hundreds of crystals and lights. There is so much more to see – we recommend experiencing the exhibition in two parts, with sustenance in between.
As part of the Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibition, the kid friendly Studio Cats opens daily, and is a tribute to both artists’ shared love for their feline friends. Entry to Studio Cats is free.
Andy Warhol | Ai Wei Wei is now open at the National Gallery of Victoria until 24 April 2016. For more information and to buy tickets, visit the NGV website.