Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) explores the multifaceted nuances and complexities of our contemporary society. Known for observing and commenting on political and social changes in his home country as well as in the Western world, his artistic practice revolves around emotive themes such as human rights, freedom of speech, economic exploitation and environmental damages. His works often move beyond the art world into the realm of social activism. As a fine connoisseur of Chinese art and antiques, Ai often reflects on the perception of Chinese culture and the alienation of ancient objects in his work. In his sculptures and installations, he favours the use of traditional materials such as porcelain, jade, marble or precious wood. He is also celebrated for his films, photographs and works in Lego, as much as his architectural and curatorial work.
‘Ai Weiwei transforms his life into art, turning the things he encounters and the events he experiences into artistic statements. Yet this personal aspect is often coupled with references to specifically Chinese material and […] traditions. Regardless of whether he deconstructs these traditions or reshapes them, thus imbuing them with new qualities, their original meanings remain present in his works. By identifying and interpreting these references, one may hope to contribute to a better understanding of the multifaceted and highly complex dimensions of his art.’
Uta Rahman-Steinert, ‘Ambivalent Deconstruction: Ai Weiwei’s approach to tradition’, in Ai Weiwei: Evidence, Prestel, 2014
Image: Surveillance Camera and Plinth,
, 52 x 52 x 120 cm
Selected Institutional Exhibitions
Ai Weiwei, Ernesto Neto
E.A.T. / Engadin Art Talks (talk)
27 – 29 January 2023
A Conversation with Ai Weiwei (talk)
SQUARE, University of St. Gallen
30 January 2023, 7 – 8:30 pm (CET)
Ego vici mvndvm (installation)
Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
14 January – 18 June 2023
Ai Weiwei, Richard Prince
From Here, For Now (group show)
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
5 November 2022 – 12 February 2023
Ai Weiwei receives the Praemium Imperiale Prize
Praemium Imperiale Prize
La Commedia Umana – Memento Mori (solo show)
Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
28 August – 27 November 2022
Ai Weiwei et al.
Talk Art: Ai Weiwei Live at Kite Festival (podcast)
Ai Weiwei et al.
Forest: Wake this Ground (group show)
9 July – 2 October, 2022
Arc, 2017, installed in Stockholm in collaboration with Brilliant Minds (temporary installation)
Ai Weiwei et al.
Air (group show)
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City
16 July – 11 December 2022
A brush with... Ai Weiwei (podcast)
Listen to the podcast here.
In Search of Humanity (solo show)
Albertina Modern, Vienna
16 March – 4 September 2022
Intertwine. Pequi Tree, Roots, and Human Figures (solo show)
Serralves Museum, Porto
23 July 2021 – 9 July 2022
1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. A Memoir (publication)
Ai Weiwei, Jeff Elrod, Thomas Struth et al.
Connecting Currents: Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts (group show)
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
21 November 2020 – Summer 2022
The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building is dedicated to the ...
Coronation (2020) (film)
On December 31, 2019, the first novel coronavirus case was confirmed in Wuhan. Chinese officials repeatedly denied that human-to-human transmission was possible, ...