Elisabetta Cipriani is delighted to announce a unique collaboration with renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Cipriani collaborates with internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to create one of a kind wearable sculptures made from precious materials. The exclusive collection by Ai Weiwei entitled Rebar in Gold will be on view at Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery in Mayfair from 11 November 2015 – 16 January 2016.
Rebar in Gold takes root in Ai Weiwei’s investigation into the devastating 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, which killed approximately 90,000 people. Ai’s concern focused on the distressing number of children who perished due to the poor construction techniques used to build government schools. Upon visiting Wenchuan after the earthquake, Ai found a mass of contorted steel rebar, left behind from the fallen school buildings. Ai purchased 200 tonnes of the material from the scrapyards where they were sent after the sites were cleared, for use in a bold body of work dedicated to the catastrophe.
For the collaboration with Elisabetta Cipriani, Ai has chosen gold, a material traditionally reflecting eternity and wealth, a direct contradiction to the sudden, tragic destruction caused by the earthquake and as a consequence of substandard government building regulations. Rebar In Gold therefore serves as a delicate memorial to the human life lost among the earthquake’s rubble.
The artist presents unique pieces of handcrafted gold rebar in three lengths; 60cm and 20cm. As the gold is pure at 24 carat, it is flexible and each bar is individually bent by the artist, creating the first form for the wearer to then adjust on his or her wrist or neck.
Ai Weiwei has designed a large-scale, purpose-built wooden structure in which to showcase the exceptional collection. Positioned at the centre of the gallery, the structure will house two display cabinets, custom-made by the artist, assembled from glass and Huali, an ancient Chinese wood.
The exhibition at Elisabetta Cipriani coincides with the first major institutional survey of Ai Weiwei’s work ever held in the UK, at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (19 September — 13 December 2015).
Established in 2009, Elisabeth Cipriani gallery has collaborated with contemporary artists including Rebecca Horn, Jannis Kounellis and Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, presenting remarkable wearable artworks rarely seen in museums and galleries.