An Wei Lu Li’s practice is based on the study of authority and its impact on the lives of individual citizens in ‘civilised’ societies. Based in Madrid with Chinese heritage, he works in urban environments, creating large scale site-specific installations and highly detailed, almost sculptural street art works that are intertwined with their surroundings.
Using a powerful and emotive visual language An Wei tackles head-on issues around liberty, the abuse of power and the constraints that ‘civilised society’ imposes on people, whether religious, legal, military or educational, as well as state complicity in excluding swathes of the population from engaging in meaningful political debate. His humanoid figures, painted in a subdued, considered colour palette, often appear to be bound or gagged, desperately trying to communicate with one-another or in the midst of prayer, close to their purpose but unable to achieve it.
An Wei began Democracy during BE FESTIVAL 2015. This ambitious new project is partly informed by research undertaken during his time in Birmingham and collaborations with performers from across Europe. The series of new works, presented at BE FESTIVAL, will confront viewers across Birmingham. The centerpiece of the project will be a monumental painting across Centenary Square, in the heart of the city. This image references Leviathan (1651) by English Philosopher Thomas Hobbes, the famous frontispiece of which depicts the state as a huge humanoid form constituted of numerous individuals.
Over time, as the public walk across the figure, it will slowly vanish. But it won’t be obvious at first, the initial treading will be an unconscious act. The unwitting and then recognised participation represents our irresponsible human behaviour due to the inadequate education delivered by the state affecting our unconscious and conscious activities as human beings. An Wei’s Democracy is a metaphor for our lack of political engagement within society which ultimately serves the purposes of the establishment.
Alongside this work An Wei will produce several other brand new works at sites across Birmingham city centre. Each of these new works will be linked to the history of its surroundings. On Saturday 18 June he will complete an additional work as part of City of Colours street art festival, where he will also deliver a talk about his practice.
An Wei’s exhibition at The Rep will run 21-25 June and will be open daily from 10am – 10pm (access via Cambridge St.).
BE Visual Arts Events in June:
Sat 18: An Wei street painting on Bromley St., Digbeth (10am – 4pm)
Sat 18: An Wei artist talk and Q&A at Mockingbird Theatre (4.30-5.30pm)
Tue 21: First chance to see exhibition of An Wei’s ‘Democracy’ in the festival hub(6-7pm)
Wed 22: An Wei discusses his practice at BE FESTIVAL, in the festival Hub (3pm)
Fri 24: Adam Scarborough discussion on art, politics and protest in the festival Hub (3-4pm)
Sat 25: Adam Scarborough leads a public protest action with workshop participants (time and place TBC)