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Rooted and Unbendable Ai Weiwei by Misha Lyuve

Aug 19, 2012

Every society has constraints that offer opportunity for vision, freedom and courage. “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” by Alison Klayman is a documentary about a man who appreciates the possibilities and challenges of this opportunity in China. Ai Weiwei is an artist who turned his vision and success into an effective and audacious tool for challenging the Chinese government to promote freedom and individual rights.

In one of my interactions with the government, I was stopped by police in the U.S. for speeding and I was so scared that my back went numb. Ai Weiwei has been arrested, followed and harassed by the Chinese government for years. I am fascinated by people who by virtue of their values and beliefs overcome their fears and give up conveniences of their lives to forward causes they are committed to. Being a master communicator, Ai Weiwei is doing it with a particular grace that created a following for him in China and abroad – and it is that following that makes it so much harder for Chinese government to shut him up.

Here are a few things to know about Ai Weiwei (check out Who inspires: Ai Weiwei and Ai Weiwei: The Evolution of a Dissident)

- Ai Weiwei was one of the designers of the Bird’s Nest, the Beijing Olympics stadium. He later publicly denounced the project and his participation in it because the government turned the Olympics games into a massive propaganda for the ruling party.

- During the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province poorly built schools collapsed killing a large number of students. As Chinese government refused to acknowledge issues with the school construction or release the number of children who died during the earthquake, Ai Weiwei and his volunteers identified 5,335 names and pictures of those kids who died. His supporters recorded their names and Ai Weiwei dedicated an exhibition in Munich “So sorry” to this event while Chinese government shut down his blog and threatened him and his family.

- In 2010 Ai Weiwei had 100,000,000 handmade porcelain sunflower seeds created for his exhibition in Tate Modern contrasting the mass-production reality of China, centuries of Chinese porcelain art tradition and a sunflower as an accepted symbol of Chinese propaganda art.

In “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” will tell you a story of one man’s life and leave you with the questions about yours.

Nakedness: Lucian Freud @ Metropolitan Museum of Art by Misha Lyuve

Oct 8, 2011

If you want to hang out in a room full of naked people, the Lucian Freud’s exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is a very special opportunity to do that (it runs through December 31, 2011). In fact, I suggest that this time around you skip Roman sculptures and Asian decorative art as well as other rooms in the Modern Art section – go straight to Kimmelman gallery and allow yourself to fully immerse into the rich world of Freud’s paintings.     

Lucian Freud's Exhibition @ Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Lucian Freud's Exhibition @ Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

We live in the world where body image is a cause of emotional distress and psychological disorder, and an image of a body as a symbol of sex has become the strongest marketing weapon. The concern for how we look is now on a critical path of our pursuit of happiness. It is engraved into youngsters with clearly defined standards of pretty and ugly, acceptable and not. It has a flavor of despair, shame and guilt.     

And all that is a great reason to come and visit with Lucian Freud – he will challenge your points of view and have you questioning. What bodies do you consider beautiful? What do you think about your own body? Does nudity have to be sexual? Is it shameful? His paintings will confront stereotypes that have been passed on to you and the ones you developed throughout your life. What do you find repulsive? What are your thoughts when you see a body of an old person? What are your judgments of fat bodies?     

There is a good chance that after seeing this exhibition you will come out a better person.     

Naked Man Back View, by Lucian Freud at Met Museum, New York

Image credits: Lucian Freud (British, 1922-2011). Naked Man, Back View, 1991-92. Oil on canvas 72-1/4 x 54-1/8 inches (183.5 x 137.5 cm.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1993 (1993.71) © The Estate of Lucian Freud

Also read:
- Two Deaths in London
- Aging Fools

Two deaths in London by Misha Lyuve

Jul 24, 2011
Listen to Amy while reading this post 


Lucian Freud and Amy Winehouse are the two names that aren’t likely to show up in the same sentence. But as they both died in London last week, the pair had me think about them together.

As different as they might seem – Freud (the Dr. Freud’s grandson) who shocked the world with his nudes that showed more flesh that most could handle and who lived till 88, and Winehouse whose brief, dense and volatile career and life, and now death at 27, rocked the world – the two seemed to have much more in common than one would think.

"Reflection", by Lucian Freud (self-portrait)

Reflection (self-portrait), by Lucian Freud

Kate Moss'a portrait, by Lucian Freud

Kate Moss's portrait, by Lucian Freud

Naked man with a rat, by Lucian Freud

Naked man with a rat, by Lucian Freud

So what is in common? – Raw, real and honest art. Fraud spent days with his models, in order to get into every detail of their bodies – and by the way, all kinds of bodies: young and old, skinny and fat – and discover details more intimate than a lover could see. I think the only reason why we would want to turn away from his paintings is because behind pretty and shiny pictures in magazines we forgot what real bodies look like.

And Amy wasn’t there to be nice, cute and clean or for someone to like her. Whatever demons that troubled her, with authentic roughness in her voice and from the depth of her chest, she made it very clear – she ain’t going to rehab. Yeh, rehab might’ve saved her life. But I think I get it now, maybe she was worried if there would be Amy left after rehab.

Now everyone is screaming about wasted life and lost talent – what do you know? – look at your own life and talents and see what you are waisting. No reason to judge Amy. Thank you very much

Symbiosis for survival by Misha Lyuve

Jan 27, 2011
Raquel Paiewonsky is a contemporary artist that currently resides in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her work has traveled across the globe. It expolores human body, urban life, social constructs and social issues. The photographs featured in this article are from the project Simbiosis para salvarnos (Symbiosis for survival) that has been shown in Santo Domingo, Miami, Lima, Buenos Aires, and is heading to Mexico soon.

There is a type of artwork that when you see it for the first time, it makes such an impression on you that you need to pause – that was my experience of Symbiosis para survir, the project that came out of the Raquel’s concern for the environment and tells a story of integration with nature as a strategy for growth and expansion of our lives and our planet. Children with their heads under the roots of the plants are the seeds needed to fulfill the mission to heal the Earth.

Raquel and I met last week in Santo Domingo to talk about her art.  Raquel said that the photographs, unfortunately, don’t fully show all the work that was done to realize this project: the conversations she had with the kids to explain the project and why she is doing it, their curiosity and enthusiasm, and two days of work and play on the beach.

“With visual works, what people see is the bit leftover at the end, after you’ve finished working. The work is like the sediment at the bottom of the glass, not like drinking the wine. Whereas when you are listening to a piece of music, you are listening to it being made.”  Martin Creed