Colored Vases, 2006

Photo: Courtesy of the artist / Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne

Ten Neolithic vases (5000–3500 B.C.), industrial paint
Ca. 35 x 27 x 27 cm (each)
Overall dimensions variable

Colored Vases consists of ten vases that Ai has painted with ordinary household paints of various colors in a serial installation he has been creating since 2003. The dripping and running of the uniform colors of the commercially manufactured paints applied to these hand-made, biscuit-fired Neolithic (5,000–3,000 BC) urns places the traditional form of pottery, with dripping or running glazes, and the expressionless quality of industrially manufactured products into a new relationship of contradiction, coexistence, and accommodation.

Through the medium of ceramics, Ai Weiwei created metaphors suggesting the overpowering of Chinese history and tradition by Western consumer culture, and he posed questions concerning the meaning of the art work’s authenticity, the autonomy of creativity, and the artistic authority, while pointing to the irony that the production of replicas contributes, in fact, to the preservation of traditional craft techniques and traditions. – Mami Kataoka

*1957 in Beijing, China | Living and working in Beijing, China
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