“The most dangerous man in China”; Ai Weiwei to exhibit at Springfield Museums

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The work of Ai Weiwei, a contemporary artist recognized as a symbol of the struggle for human rights in China, will be presented in a new exhibition inaugurated this weekend at the Springfield Museums.

The exhibition, “Ai Weiwei: Tradition and Dissent,” focuses on works of art that specifically speak to his engagement with Chinese materials, methods, motifs and artefacts. Ai Weiwei: Tradition and Dissent opens to the public on July 17 and will be on display until January 2, 2022 at the Musée des beaux-arts D’Amour.

Many have been familiar with Ai’s work since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He was one of the artists who designed the Beijing National Stadium, better known as the Bird’s Nest Stadium.

“Ai Weiwei renews the old by creating a thoughtful link between her Chinese cultural heritage and her creative endeavors,” said Maggie North, art curator for Springfield Museums. “Many of the artist’s recent works simultaneously revive and remake the artisanal practices of the past, notably those of wood carpentry, porcelain painting and marble sculpture.”

According to museums, many recent works by the 63-year-old revive and remake artisanal practices of the past, including those of wood carpentry, porcelain painting and marble sculpture.

Ai Weiwei, Zodiac, 2018, LEGO bricks, 12 individual panels of 45 x 45 inches each. Private collection. (Image courtesy of the artist.)

Other works, such as the artist’s Zodiac made from LEGO bricks, use contemporary materials to reimagine culturally meaningful symbols.

Museums describe the artist as “one of the most versatile creative minds today” and point out that through his work he is “a vocal critic of the Chinese government”.

In 2011, Weiwei was arrested in China following a government crackdown on so-called “political dissidents” – a specific category that the Chinese government uses to classify those who seek to subvert the power of the State – for “alleged economic crimes” against the Chinese. State. Weiwei used his art to fight both the corruption of the Chinese Communist government and the neglect of human rights, especially in the area of ​​freedom of speech and thought.

“Ai Weiwei creates work that addresses social justice while fostering a dialogue between the practice of traditional Chinese art and modern modes of expression,” said Heather Haskell, vice president and director of art museums. “He is known to redefine objects and materials, by applying automobile paint to Han Dynasty vessels, for example, and using these unconventional techniques, he urges the viewer to combat the tension between construction and construction. destruction as well as between the old and the contemporary. “

In 2014, he was again in trouble with the People‘s Republic of China and under house arrest for activism on behalf of thousands of children killed in an earthquake in Sichuan province.

Many schools in the earthquake area collapsed while buildings around them remained standing. Estimates vary, but up to 7,000 classrooms are said to have collapsed and up to 10,000 students may have died. In all, nearly 70,000 people died in the earthquake. At the time, the earthquake was the deadliest natural disaster in China for three decades.

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei, Surveillance camera, 2010, Marble, 15 x 16 x 8 inches. Private collection. (Image courtesy of the artist.)

His questioning of the status quo and his opposition to the Chinese government led Smithsonian Magazine to question whether he really was “China’s most dangerous man.”

He was barely a year old when his family was exiled to Xinjiang in northwest China in retaliation for his father’s political views against the government.

Her father was Ai Qing, a well-known Chinese poet who was accused of being an anti-socialist and sent to a labor camp in a remote part of China. His family followed him there, and Ai grew up watching his father subjected to forced labor and being publicly humiliated.

Now in exile from his home in Beijing, Ai lives in a rural estate east of Lisbon, Portugal.

“I love Portugal,” he told Reuters in March after moving to mainland Europe from his old home in Cambridge, England.

“I will stay here for the long term unless something happens,” he said.


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