May 29, 2022

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‘China’s most perilous man’ Ai Weiwei to exhibit at Springfield Museums

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The operate of Ai Weiwei, a up to date artist who has been acknowledged as a symbol of the wrestle for human rights in China, will be on display in a new exhibit opening this weekend at the Springfield Museums.

The exhibition, “Ai Weiwei: Custom and Dissent,” focuses on artwork that speaks specially to his engagement with Chinese supplies, solutions, motifs and artifacts. Ai Weiwei: Custom and Dissent opens to the general public on July 17 and will be on show by means of Jan. 2, 2022 in the D’Amour Museum of Great Arts.

Many will know Ai’s do the job from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was 1 of the artists that designed the Beijing National Stadium, which is much better identified as the Bird’s Nest stadium.

“Ai Weiwei helps make the outdated new once again by developing a considerate link concerning his Chinese cultural heritage and his imaginative endeavors,” explained Maggie North, curator of artwork for the Springfield Museums. “Many of the artist’s latest works concurrently revive and remake craftsmanship techniques of the earlier such as individuals of wood joinery, porcelain painting, and marble sculpting.”

Many of the 63-12 months-old’s latest operates revive and remake craftsmanship tactics of the earlier like people of wooden joinery, porcelain painting and marble sculpting, in accordance to the museums.

Ai Weiwei, Zodiac, 2018, LEGO bricks, 12 unique panels at 45 x 45 inches each individual. Non-public Selection. (Image courtesy of the artist.)

Other will work, such as the artist’s Zodiac built from LEGO bricks, use modern materials to reimagine culturally major symbols.

The museums explain the artist as “one of today’s most multipurpose resourceful minds” and they spotlight that through his get the job done he is “a vocal critic of the Chinese govt.”

In 2011, Weiwei was arrested in China next a crackdown by the government on so-referred to as “political dissidents” – a certain group that the Chinese govt uses to classify these who look for to subvert condition power – for “alleged economic crimes” in opposition to the Chinese point out. Weiwei has utilized his art to deal with both the corruption of the Chinese communist authorities and neglect of human rights, particularly in the realm of the freedom of speech and imagined.

“Ai Weiwei results in operate that addresses social justice whilst fostering a dialogue amongst traditional Chinese art praxis and modern modes of expression,” mentioned Heather Haskell, vice president and director of the art museums. “He is recognised for redefining objects and products, by applying car paint to Han Dynasty vessels, for case in point and by employing these unconventional approaches, he urges the viewer to grapple with the stress in between design and destruction as properly as historic and contemporary.”

In 2014, he was all over again in difficulty with the People’s Republic of China and place less than household arrest for activism on behalf of thousands of kids killed in an earthquake in Sichuan province.

A lot of educational institutions in the earthquake zone crumbled although buildings all over them remained standing. Estimates differ, but it is stated to be as quite a few as 7,000 classrooms collapsed and up to 10,000 college students may well have died. In all, practically 70,000 men and women died in the quake. At the time, the quake was the deadliest natural catastrophe in China in 3 a long time.

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei, Surveillance Camera, 2010, Marble, 15 x 16 x 8 inches. Non-public Collection. (Image courtesy of the artist.)

His questioning of the position quo and opposition to the Chinese government led to the Smithsonian Journal to concern if he was really “China’s most harmful person.”

He was barely a yr previous when his family was exiled to Xinjiang, Northwest China, in retaliation for his father’s political views versus the government.

His father was Ai Qing, a well-regarded Chinese poet who was accused of remaining anti-socialist and despatched to a labor camp in a remote region of China. His family members adopted him there, and Ai grew up watching his father subjected to hard labor and getting publicly shamed.

Now in exile from his household in Beijing, Ai lives on a countryside estate east of Lisbon, Portugal.

“I adore Portugal,” he told Reuters in March just after moving to the European continent from his previous house in Cambridge, England.

“I will keep listed here very long-phrase unless one thing occurs,” he explained.

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