A major exhibition by Ai Weiwei this autumn features a new series of monumental sculptural works in iron, cast from giant tree roots sourced in Brazil during research and production for last year's survey exhibition, 'RAIZ', at the Oscar Niemeyer-designed OCA Pavilion in Ibirapuera Oark, São Paulo.
Ai worked with local artisans and communities across Brazil, visiting Trancoso in the east to locate roots and trunks from the endangered pequi-vinagreiro tree, typically found in the Bahian rainforest. Elements of these ancient, rare tree roots have been painstakingly hand-cast using the traditional ‘lost wax’ technique and then conjoined at the artist’s studio in China to create new compositions and forms that reflect their Brazilian heritage, resembling great jungle beasts or fantastical creatures. Not born of nature but made by human hands, the works, themselves contorted by the surrounding landscape, represent a society uprooted by industrialisation and modernisation, illustrating how progress can often come at the expense of cultural and societal well-being. A book will be published on the occasion of the exhibition and is presented in collaboration with Ai’s Berlin gallery, neugerriemschneider.