Ai Weiwei invites himself at Le Bon Marché

For this new year, the Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei exhibits his work at Le Bon Marché, centre of fashion and Parisian refinement, side Left Bank. By calling his exhibition “ER XI”, wich means child’s play, the artist falls back into childhood and turns the big store into his playground. It’s the first work ever created by the artist for a retail space.

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist known worldwide in the world of art. It has different jobs like sculptor, performer, photographer, architect, curator and blogger. Also, he had in his career disagreements with the Chinese authorities, and is arrested and imprisoned in 2011, ostensibly for tax evasion. Then, he remained on probation with ban to leave Beijing without authorization, until July 22, 2015, when he recovered his Chinese passport (see Article on the blog “Ai Weiwei allowed to exhibit in China again“).

Expo ER XI Ai Weiwei au Bon Marche? oeuvre Le Heluo  �Gabriel de la Chapelle-2
Ai Weiwei, “The Heluo“ copyright : Gabriel de la Chapelle

For his exhibition, Ai Weiwei drew his inspiration from Shan Hai Jing, the classic of mountains and seas. A collection of epic tales and popular legends that goes back to chinese antiquity, told to children for over 2 000 years. The artist chose some two dozen characters, feathered dragons, for their fantasy, their craziness, their poetry.

To achieve these mythological creatures, Ai Weiwei has chosen the ancient technique of traditional kites, wich brings together the flexibility of bamboo to the lightweight silk.

Expo ER XI Ai Weiwei au Bon Marche? oeuvre Taifeng  �Gabriel de la Chapelle-2
Ai Weiwei “Taifeng“ copyright : Gabriel de la Chapelle

Ai Weiwei explains about choice of space : “this experience also allows me to find a new way to conceive an exhibition, with constraints that are different from a museum’s or a gallery’s. Exploring new potentials is an integral part of my work as an artist“.

So, if you go to Le Bon Marché to buy a nice pair of gloves or a hat, take the time to admire the painstaking Ai Weiwei’s work, which will make you have a good time, in company of imaginary characters.

Ai Weiwei “Er Xi”
January 16 – February 20, 2016
LE BON MARCHÉ rive gauche
24 rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris
Opening hours : from Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 8pm
Telephone : (+33) 01 44 39 80 00
Metro : Sèvres-Babylone (line 10 or 12)

Official website : here

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