Wastelands is a group exhibition of 8 artists who have links with China, and explores the idea of ‘waste’ as a result of consumption. The exhibition includes installation, painting, sculpture and film.
Ai Wei Wei
A hugely significant artist who’s work I have recently become fascinated with. His work explores human rights abuses through a huge variety of medium from film to architecture. He often uses Chinese tradition to create a commentary about the problems he sees within China. During Wastelands the documentary Ordos 100 was shown which shows his approach to collaboration and his ability to visualize huge scale architectural projects. Ordos was intended to be a new city within inner Mongolia utilizing 100 architects from 27 countries to build 100 designs that make up a new city. It was never realised and remains unfinished.
Cai Yuan’s work within wastelands includes part of his ‘isms’ series. This comprises a set of canvases thickly painted with bright oil paint in long horizontal strokes over which he has written a different handwritten text. This work for me suggests deeply embedded expectations within societies.
I really loved Anthony Key’s piece ‘Dolly’ within the exhibition. Taking it’s name from the cloned sheep ‘dolly’ and using a supermarket trolley this piece of work references consumerism and asks us to question our sheeplike behaviour.
Sun Haili’s work explores space, and he is particularly interested in the combination of natural and artificial worlds within our outdoor spaces. Golden Circle is a sculpture that is made from a single large rock found in Gloucestershire which he then sawed in half. The dynamic difference between the clean line of the cut is at odds with the more natural aged rough green surface. The remaining half of the stone was turned into a fine stone dust which is placed in a circle around the rock, apparently referencing the Chinese mythological figure of Monkey King Sun Wukong.
Wastelands has been another fascinating exhibition. For me what is really interesting and continues to inspire me is how artists express their ideas in clever original ways that opens up whole new ideas of exploration and thought.