Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Australian visa has been approved and the artist is expected to arrive in time for the opening of the National Gallery of Victoria’s summer blockbuster show Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei. Ai is due in Melbourne the week of the exhibition’s 11 December opening.
The artist’s visit had been “confirmed recently”, an NGV spokesperson stated to the press, although there was still a question mark hanging over the visit as recently as last week. Representatives of the artist’s Beijing studio are already present as are the artist’s and Warhol’s works, installed across NGV International’s gallery spaces.
The Chinese dissident artist has recently been sparring with the Chinese UK ambassador over the artist’s alleged tax evasion, and the quality of his work, has also received a visa to stay in Germany for three years and to take up a teaching post at a Berlin university. “The university position will be for three years and during this period he will spend a lot of his time in Germany,” Ai Spokeswoman stated at the time.
Ai was detained in 2011 for 81 days without charge. A company the artist founded was later convicted of tax evasion by the Chinese authorities. Ai was finally released on one year’s probation in June 2011, but the government retained his passport – which it recently returned prior to his survey at the Royal Academy of Arts.
The artist will be in Melbourne for a week, the NGV spokesperson confirmed. A spokesperson for Australia’s department of Immigration and Border Protection said it did not comment on individual visa applications.
Photo: P A Black © 2015