Date
14 December 2017
Ai Weiwei’s “Grapes” is estimated to be worth HK$1.5-2.2 million, according to Sotheby’s. Photo: Sotheby’s
Ai Weiwei’s “Grapes” is estimated to be worth HK$1.5-2.2 million, according to Sotheby’s. Photo: Sotheby’s

What is not contemporary art?

Contemporary art is hard to understand.

To ordinary folks like me, who has no artistic training whatsoever, it seems anything can be contemporary art.

Not only do I find it hard to understand such art works, I don’t find them beautiful at all.

Some pieces appear to be so disconnected from the traditional concept of painting or sculpture that I am prompted to ask: What is not contemporary art?

This Ai Weiwei creation, one of the items available for bidding in the upcoming Sotheby’s spring auction, truly boggles my mind.

It looks nothing more than a few wooden stools strung together. Is the piece too deep, beyond the comprehension and appreciation of ordinary mortals like me?

A columnist at The Guardian describes it thus: “A cluster of Qing stools, strung together and spiralling upwards like a sputnik or diadem, invokes the people of the past in a beautiful new form.”

She goes on to say: “Each work has its deep local meaning but each is an emblematic gathering of souls, of human communities as opposed to communism.”

Sorry, I am totally lost.

For those who really appreciate it, it will take a deep pocket to own it.

Titled “Grapes”, the work, according to the auction house, is estimated to be worth HK$1.5-2.2 million, almost half the price of a small flat in this expensive city.

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CG

EJ Insight writer

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