Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei explores the multitude and complexity of the challenges within our contemporary society. Known for observing and commenting political and social changes of his home country but also the Western world, his artistic practice revolves around sensitive themes such as human rights, freedom of speech, economic exploitation or environmental damages and often takes a step beyond the art world. As a fine connoisseur of Chinese art and antiques, Ai's work often reflects on the perception of Chinese culture and the alienation of ancient objects. In his sculptures and installations, he favours the use of traditional materials such as porcelain, jade, marble or precious wood while being also well known for his films and photographs as well 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, 2015 , marble , 52 x 52 x 120 cm