Ai Weiwei: 5 things to know

Ai Weiwei | portrait

Ai Weiwei. Image source: Metalocus.es

WHO AI WEIWEI IS: 5 THINGS TO KNOW

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese dissident and provocative artist, and you can either love or hate his works. There are no half measures with Ai Weiwei. Some consider him most important artist in China and in the word; others consider him a skilful imposter, and I would like you to express your opinion in your comments. Do you like Ai Weiwei’s works or do you consider them unnecessary provocations?

“My work has always been political, because the choice of being an artist is political, in China”- Ai Weiwei.

Here are 5 things to know who Ai Weiwei is.

READ ALSO: Who is Damien Hirst.

1 – AI WEIWEI WAS BORN IN BEIJING

1- Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957, but he completed his artistic training in Europe, and in particularly in the USA. In 1981, at the age of 24, he moved to New York, where he studied the contemporary artists, and the works by Marcel Duchamp and by Andy Warhol became his main source of inspiration.

Ai WeiWei | Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn

Ai WeiWei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. Image source: Flash Art online.it

2 – AI WEIWEI IN CHINA

Ai Weiwei returned to China in 1993, at the age of 36, and began to create works which denounce how the Chinese economic development model has been erasing the national cultural heritage. His performance “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” (1995) was in the public spotlight, because the artist was filmed while dropping a 2000-year Chinese urn, dressed up like a typical Chinese worker.

3 – AI WEIWEI AND “SNAKE BAG”

At first, the Chinese government considered him an official artist, and in fact Ai Weiwei along with other artists worked on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games. In 2008 problems between Ai Weiwei and the Chinese government began.
In that year a severe earthquake hit China (in the province of Sichuan) and the artist, through his blog as well, invited everybody to compile a list of the victims dead due to the collapse of the schools, built without respecting safety standards.
Ai Weiwei created the work “Snake Bag”, a snake made up of children’s backpacks.

Ai WeiWei | Snake Bag

Ai WeiWei, Snake Bag. Image source: My Modern Met.com

4 – WHAY’ WAS ARRESTED AI WEIWEI

In 2011 Ai Weiwei was arrested on charges of tax evasion. The artist was held in prison for 81 days, was sentenced to pay a $ 2.36 million fine, and his passport was confiscated. The detention inspired Ai Weiwei to create a work entitled “S.A.C.R.E.D.” presented at the Venice Biennale in 2013.

READ ALSO: The Venice Art Biennale 2017.

5 – AI WEIWEI IN ITALY

Ai Weiwei was given his passport back in 2015, and from that moment on he has been free to travel abroad; and in his journey to Europe he has been closely involved in the tragedy lived by migrants. His first Italian solo exhibition dates to 2016, and he displayed in Florence some rubber boats anchored temporarily to the Palazzo Strozzi’s windows. The work was entitled “Reframe”.

READ ALSO: Ai Weiwei in Florence, the exhibition in Palazzo Strozzi

Ai Weiwei | Reframe | Palazzo Strozzi

Ai Weiwei, Reframe (2016) – Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze. IMAGE SOURCE: firenze.repubblica.it

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