The Chinese artist is one of the most celebrated contemporary artists in the East and West, a global citizen who calls for political investigation within his wide practice. Ai Weiwei investigates and questions institutions and regimes at the core of his work, he measures our existence in relation to economic, political, and social forces, while his practice is rooted in Chinese tradition he executes within a contemporary and conceptual creativity.
His provocative blend of Chinese tradition and craftsmanship within fully contemporary practice serves his strong criticism of human rights violations and condemnations of governmental corruption. His own life since childhood has been marked by his struggles and fights against the Chinese Government. His father, a renewed poet, was declared “class enemy” and sent to labor camp with his family. Migrating to New York was his opportunity to expand his artistic vocabularies where he stayed for over a decade. During this time, he became influenced by the works of Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and Hasper Johns.
“The human struggle and the freedom of speech. Those values are not given by anybody. It always comes through fighting and struggle. Because somebody has to defend it. And also, if just one person defends it, it benefits everybody.” -Ai Weiwei
He was secretly detained without any official charges being filed for 81 days from April 3 to June 22, 2011 by the Chinese government, and his passport was held for 4 years afterward. Since being allowed to leave China in 2015 he has produced monumental installations and artworks that advocate for refugee rights and make awareness on the global crisis of displacement.