Ai Weiwei (1957) is one of the most important Chinese artists of the present time. Recently, he was involved in the design of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing. This solo exhibition represents was debut in the Groninger Museum.
The work of Ai Weiwei consists of performances, installations and architecture.
From 1978 onward, Ai Weiwei manifested himself in the Beijing art world as a member of the artists association called Xingxing (the Stars). When they disbanded in 1983, he settled in New York. In 1993 he returned to Beijing, and from that moment onward he made use traditional Chinese elements in his work, exploring the mechanisms of political and national symbolism in a provoking manner. For one of his works he allowed an urn from the Han dynasty to fall to the ground and break. Other objects of national pride also tumbled from his hands. He painted ancient vases with the Coca Cola logo, or coated them in bright colours. He subsequently presented them as cheap counterfeits. In 1997 he founded the China Arts Archives and Warehouse, which offers a platform to young and experimental artists.
His fascination for ceramics was the central theme on this occasion. Ceramic art is a medium that permeates his whole oeuvre and is strongly connected to Chinese cultural identity. One of his most recent works, Pillars, was on display in the Coop Himmelb(l)au Pavilion. This work consists of a forest of man-sized vases amongst which visitors can stroll.