POP ART & SOCIAL COMMENTARY
Spend the evening at the National Gallery of Victoria getting lost in the creations of brilliant minds before it closes this weekend.
Walking through the Warhol and Weiwei exhibition in the expansive National Gallery of Victoria over the weekend, it is easy to get lost in the creations of brilliant minds.
Affronted immediately by Weiwei’s Forever Bicycle, (2011) installation looming inside the foyer, it seems ironic that over 1500 bicycles bolted together could reflect freedom to the artist. Then again, art is subjective.
Slipping through the crowd, I fell quickly into museum etiquette.
Arms folded, head tilted, trying to figure out a hidden meaning or being transported to another time and place.
Each studio space was filled with people and their kids gazing over the peculiar amass of various pieces, such as Warhol’s classic pop art silk screens: Elizabeth Taylor with her blue eye shadow, staring back at the voyeur, seemingly beautiful, yet captured at a time when she was critically ill with pneumonia.
Together, but separate.
Photographs of Warhol’s celebrities hang in a shocking red room opposite Weiwei’s pieces showing near poverty from his time in New York. There’s an unsettling beauty in the knowing: both artists, blocks away from each other in the same city, living such disparate lives. The evidence of their bipolar experiences in the same timeframe hanging opposite one-another, across the room, on the other side of the world, 30 years later.
Together, the exhibition works beautifully. Two artists with hugely divergent inspirations and cultural references, with overlapping themes and ideas, delivered in a range of mediums. Yet side-by-side, the themes overlap as social commentary: sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle.
A subtle ‘fuck you’.
Take the room filled with flowers: Weiwei’s subtle fuck you to the surveillance set up outside his house by the Chinese police; Warhol’s Flowers (1970) suggesting a darker angle in the flower power movement of the 60s. Both beautiful and fragile; impactful yet subtle.
The exhibition ends this weekend on the 24th April, culminating in extended opening hours that allow viewers the privilege of walking amongst some of the most influential pieces from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It’s worth the wander.