I think if I am an artist I will find my way in my language to deal with my problem.
- Ai Weiwei
Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei was once so controversial in his home country that his name was removed from Chinese art books. Ai creates highly political art that emphasizes the importance of free speech, human rights, and artistic modernism. Multiple art forms can be found among Ai’s creations: architectural projects, installations, paintings, social media, photography, and even arrangements of Chinese artifacts (including stone tools dating back to the Shang Dynasty).
The book Ai Weiwei, produced by the Royal Academy of Arts, showcases interviews with Ai as well as stunning photographs of his best work. Other artists reflect on Ai’s influence in featured essays. For example, Adrian Locke provides a chronology of important events in Ai’s life. Several of the dates Locke mentions are for Chinese government changes, which affects how Ai and his family are treated (as artists or dissidents, or both).
In spite of imprisonment and government surveillance, Ai continues to make statements about his beliefs through art. While Ai lived in the U.S. for some time, much of his art reflects Chinese culture and problems.
Cui Cancan reflects in Ai Weiwei:
Ai has been a non-existent person in Chinese society. Facing omnipresent censorship and constraints, he nevertheless perseveres in his quest to ask the fundamental questions that China faces, attempting to draw attention to and improve individual people’s circumstances.
To learn more about this artist or to view his work, check out Ai Weiwei from the Oversize books section.