Made from the traditional kite-making materials—bamboo and silk—mythical creatures float above large figures in a boat. Millions of sunflower seeds, handmade and painted porcelain pieces made by 1,600 artisans in Jingdezhen, China, form a giant rectangular composition on the floor. A smaller rectangle of broken Song dynasty porcelain teapot spouts sits between the two.

Life Cycle, by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, is his debut exhibit in Los Angeles. It’s on view at the Marciano Art Foundation until March 3, 2019.

Life Cycle: Ai Weiwei
Life Cycle: Ai Weiwei

An outspoken human-rights activist who has openly criticized the Chinese government, Ai was arrested by Chinese authorities in April 2011 and detained for three months. He was released under house arrest, prohibited from traveling abroad or engaging in public speech, and subjected to extended periods of government surveillance. Ai’s position as a provocateur and dissident artist informs the tone of much of his recent work. The artist moves between modes of creation and investigation, including his extensive research into the global plight of refugees and forced migrants.

Ai Weiwei: Life Cycle, the culmination of ten years of effort, features work related to the artist’s diverse interests including mass production, antiquity, mythology, and the global refugee crisis.

Life Cycle: Ai Weiwei
Life Cycle: Ai Weiwei
See more art installations, including Motoi Yamamoto’s intricate, temporary salt installations, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s ADA, and Marta Minujín’s ‘Parthenon’ of Banned Books.

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