A way to share and manage lots.
Lisson Gallery, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Reappropriation is at the heart of Ai Weiwei’s art. Using symbolically rich readymades, he adopts critical perspectives on cultural authority and the politics of value. He is interested in the different kinds of significance that objects accrue - be they cultural, historical, or monetary - and in the ability of the artist to animate and problematise this multiplicity. Bringing the techniques of Dadaism and Pop Art into contact with Chinese history and culture, his work is socially engaged, seeking to understand both artist and nation’s place in a globalised world.
The present lot, like Coloured Vases and Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995, is act of cultural rewriting. In iconoclastic fashion, the artist skews expectations of reverence, imposing his own design atop a visual associated with the China of old, the jar, thereby resisting their nostalgic valorisation. Unlike his later vases, Colour Jar is completely engulfed in the vibrant green, which is consistently applied across the exterior of the jar. Through this exuberant overlaying, Ai explores the tension between artistic freedom in the present and the limitations imposed by historical and cultural pressures. Bold in both palette and concept, Colour Jar navigates difficult terrain by exploring the strain between artist and society as well as history and modernity.
London Auction 5 October 2016