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Ai Weiwei Freed At Last

22-06-2011
 
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The renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was released on bail today, after state media said he admitted to tax evasion. These are accusations his family have consistantly denied. Weiwei stated that he was in good health and thanked reporters and the art community at large for their support. The statement was made last night in an impromptu news conference outside of his studio. He said under the conditions of his release he was not able to say anything more. It has been reported that hundreds of Chinese lawyers, activists, and other intellectuals have disappeared or been detained by authorities in the ongoing clampdown over the last year. Those released have almost universally kept silent, possibly fearing repercussions. The authorities informed the media that Ai had shown, "a good attitude in confessing his crimes" and repeatedly pledged to pay the taxes he owed. Formal charges have never been announced by the state media and the report did not mention any pending charges or trial.

Ai Weiwei successfully occupies multiple roles as a conceptual artist, architect, curator, designer, film-maker, publisher, and social and cultural critic. Following on from his landmark Unilever series commission Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern last year, he is currently exhibiting at the Lisson Gallery in London Greg Hilty of Lisson Gallery says: “We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring to a UK public a selection of key works that demonstrate the range and sensibility of Ai Weiwei. Beautifully crafted, conceptually acute, poetically resonant, these works provide a concise overview of his concerns as an artist.”
In many ways deeply political, Ai Weiwei’s work explores the tension in ideology, what he describes “as being between a more interesting state of mind and a more dreadful state of mind. The artist should be for the interesting against the dreadful."  Using a variety of formal languages with both traditional and innovative methods of production, Ai links the past with the present and explores the geopolitical, economic and cultural realities affecting the world with humour and compassion. Described as “the best artist to have appeared since the Cultural Revolution in China” , his work can be seen as a succession of gestures critiquing both commodity fetishism and the society in which he lives.
Among numerous international projects planned for next year are exhibitions of Ai’s photographic works at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, and his architectural projects at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria.

About the Artist
Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing, China, where he lives and works. Solo exhibitions include Stiftung DKM, Duisburg (2010); Museum of  Contemporary Craft, Portland (2010); Arcadia University Gallery, Glenside (2010); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2009); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009); Three Shadows Photography Art Center, Beijing (2009); Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Cambelltown Arts Center, Sydney (2008); Groninger Museum, Groningen (2008). Group exhibitions include the São Paulo Biennial (2010); Biennale Architecture, Venice (2008); Documenta 12, Kassel (2007) and Tate Liverpool (2007).

Widely considered to be one of the most significant cultural figures of his generation in China and internationally, Ai Weiwei successfully occupies multiple roles as a conceptual artist, architect, curator, designer, film-maker, publisher and activist.

Using a variety of formal languages with both traditional and innovative methods of production, Ai links the past with the present and explores the geopolitical, economic and cultural realities affecting the world with humour and compassion.
 
Ai Weiwei's Unilever series commission 'Sunflower Seeds' is currently on display in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall until 2 May 2011. A major public installation 'Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads' will open in Ai Weiwei's Unilever series commission 'Sunflower Seeds' is currently on display in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall until 2 May 2011.
 A major public installation 'Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads' will open in New York on 2 May and at Somerset House in London on 12 May. Other numerous international projects planned for this year are the exhibitions of Ai’s photographic works at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland and of architectural projects at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria. He currently has two London installations running concurrently one at the Lisson Gallery and the other at Somerset House in the courtyard.


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