Ai Weiwei: The 21st Century Sensation

A selection of Ai Weiwei’s art is currently showing at Blenheim Palace – the first major contemporary art exhibition displaying more than fifty artworks by the artist.

The show contains photos taken by Weiwei in New York during the 1980s, through to his new works created particularly for the exhibition in the Great Hall.

China’s most controversial artist and dissident, Ai Weiwei, has exhibitions all around the world, from New York to Venice. Everybody’s after a glimpse of his work.

But Weiwei isn’t your average artist.

In 2011, after critical acclaim for his Sunflower Seeds installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, Weiwei was imprisoned for 81 days without a valid charge.

His contemporary art is seen by the Chinese government as provocative and defiant of their harsh attitude towards democracy and human rights.

As a result Weiwei has become the very first Chinese artist who can’t show his art in China… let alone leave the four walls of his studio in Beijing. But nothing deters Weiwei from being a hugely creative force and seeking freedom of expression.


While the Chinese government’s efforts to control and monitor Weiwei’s every move has been unpopular, you might be forgiven for thinking that this has helped catapult him towards his status as an internationally acclaimed artist and a symbol of defiance throughout the entire world.

Weiwei’s art has had a huge political impact in China, which has led to accusations that his art is ideologically biased toward America and the West. However, by paying closer attention to Weiwei’s works, it’s clear that his installations are more related to Chinese society and his aim is to communicate messages of protest through art to the Chinese people.

Weiwei, a former Parsons New York art student decided to return back to a country where there’s ‘no passion, no courage or imagination’- the People’s Republic of China. Why did he leave his laid back lifestyle in NYC? Does he regret leaving? We don’t know for sure.

But I’m guessing he might’ve felt the urge to go back, convince the government of his homeland to like his Facebook page, give him a follow on Twitter and make his art appear in the search engines of Chinese computers. Either way, a luta continua!

Ai Weiwei’s art at Blenheim Palace until December 14, 2014.

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