The lead up to He Xie (Crabs) – 河蟹
Artist Ai Weiwei, it seems, is always surrounded by controversy whether it is in relation to his visual masterpieces or his activism. Mr. Ai’s run-ins with the Chinese government have continued to border on dangerous but the revered artist is always willing to include these elements in his performance art. In 2010, Ai ran into the Chinese police in an unfortunate encounter whereby the local government tore down a large new studio that Ai had built in Shanghai as a result of ‘code violations’.
Before the studio was demolished, Ai hosted a dinner at the Shanghai studio, which he was barred by the government from attending, as a satirical nod to the studio’s planned destruction by the administration. The dinner was characterized by one of Ai’s most talked about installations- He Xie (crabs).
Yayoi Kusama – Pumpkin, 1994, Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan
About Yayoi Kusama
Celebrating her 90th birthday in 2019, Yayoi Kusama is a leading Japanese artist and legend as far as art is concerned. While she deliberately makes unique pieces that can withstand the wear and tear of the outdoors, she is renowned for reproducing her art in monumental scale when need be. Her career spans over 6 decades and during this time her works have managed to enter the collection of museums such as the New York MoMA, LACMA, Tate Modern and others.
Sol Lewitt’s Wall Drawings
Over the course of his prolific, influential career, Sol LeWitt (1928–2007) produced more than 1.200 wall drawings. Early in his career, Sol LeWitt began to have others help execute his wall drawings. Wall Drawing 16 was first drawn by a draftsmen, which helped LeWitt to realize his work according to his instructions and diagrams, addressing practical concerns such as the time-consuming nature of the drawings. More significantly, however, this choice articulated LeWitt’s belief that the conception of the idea, rather than its execution, constitutes the art work. He was also rejecting the traditional importance assigned to the artist’s own hand. The artist executed the earliest wall drawings within a square, usually four by four feet wide, but by 1969 he was using the entire wall, starting with Wall Drawing 16.
The drawings range from layers of straight lines meticulously drawn in black graphite pencil lead, to rows of delicately rendered wavy lines in colored pencil; from bold black-and-white geometric forms, to bright planes in acrylic paint arranged like the panels of a folding screen; from sensuous drawings created by dozens of layers of transparent washes, to a tangle of vibratory orange lines on a green wall, and much more. Forms may appear to be flat, to recede in space, or to project into the viewer’s space, while others meld to the structure of the wall itself.
LeWitt, who stressed the idea behind his work over its execution, is widely regarded as one of the leading exponents of Minimalism and Conceptual art, and is known primarily for his deceptively simple geometric structures and architecturally scaled wall drawings. His experiments with the latter commenced in 1968 and were considered radical, in part because this new form of drawing was purposely temporal and due to the collaborative element.