The Human Comedy. AI WEIWEI

“Glass, a special material and part of our daily lives, bears witness to the joy, anxiety and worry in our reality. In his presence we reflect on the relationships between life and death, and between tradition and reality”. – Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei, in collaboration with Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore, Benedicti Claustra Onlus, Berengo Studio and Fondazione Berengo, presents a solo exhibition in Venice this summer. The result of the artist's early experimentation with glass, which began in Beijing in 2009 and culminated in a three-year project conceived in Murano, the works are full of motifs from Ai Weiwei's long and varied artistic career. Along with some of the artist's best-known and most recent works in porcelain, wood and LEGO, the glass series is on view at the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore until November 27, 2022.

The centerpiece of the artist's glass series is La Commedia Umana, a massive hanging sculpture comprised of more than 2,000 black glass pieces handcrafted by the masters at Berengo Studio in Murano. At over six meters wide and almost nine meters tall, the twisted monument is the largest hanging sculpture ever made of Murano glass in living history.

The intricate details of the imposing work are made visible thanks to the skilful use of light by the Italian company Luce5. Thanks to this illuminating support, the artwork reveals a cascade of bones, organs and unexpected elements that act as a poignant reflection on the alienating relationship between humans and the natural world, a message that resonates strongly in the fragile ecosystem of nature. Venetian lagoon. Furthermore, in contrast to the balanced architecture of Palladio, the gigantic work and exhibition highlight the Benedictine monks' centuries-long commitment to promoting a fruitful dialogue between the church and contemporary art.

Weighing 2,700kg, the monumental chandelier debuted in Rome in March 2022 and returns to its origins in Venice, uniting eight unseen glass works, including the self-portrait conceived through modern technology and manual sculpture, also dating back to the cabinetmaking.

La Commedia Umana – Memento Mori and curated by Ai Weiwei, Adriano Berengo and Carmelo A. Grasso, Director of Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore – Benedicti Claustra Onlus, the exhibition also features a selection of Ai Weiwei's most outstanding works, such as Illumination , 2019 (on loan from Lisson Gallery), an iconic selfie taken by Weiwei in Chengdu, China, in 2009, while police escorted him to a hotel elevator; and Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 2016, a provocative series of black and white photographs recreated in LEGO bricks. The exhibition will also feature two of Ai Weiwei's latest LEGO works: Sleeping Venus (After Giorgione), 2022 and Know Thyself, 2022, two debut works commissioned by Galleria Continua, and Untitled (After Mondrian), 2022, on loan from the gallery. Neugerriemschneider of Berlin.

berengo.com