Circle of Animals
Somerset House, Londonuntil June 26.
Exhibition at the Lisson Gallery, London until July 16.
Ai Weiwei's bronze Circle of Animals in the courtyard of Somerset House make a surreal spectacle, but the subtle irony of
the work is what makes it so appealing.
After the enormous acclaim he received for his show of a hundred million porcelain sunflower seeds at Tate Modern earlier this year, Ai Weiwei should have been in London this week for the opening of two
major displays of his work. But last month the artist, writer, political activist and provocateur was detained by the authorities in Beijing, and has not been seen or heard from since. The international outcry grows louder by the day.
often uses art and the internet to expose the repression and corruption in the country of his birth. But just as often his work looks at Chinese history and culture without overtly engaging in political confrontation.
His first public sculpture to
be shown in London will be displayed in the courtyard of Somerset House. In a semi-circle behind the fountains at Somerset House he's arranged 12 oversized bronze heads of animals, each about 4ft high and weighing about 800lb, and each representing a
sign of the Chinese zodiac - rat, tiger, rabbit goat, pig and so on.