D'AILLEURS C'EST TOUJOURS LES AUTRES
Recent and monumental works: Ai Weiwei, one of the most significant and influential artists of the last decade, is back in Switzerland. After his very first European solo show at the Bern Kunsthalle in 2004, the Chinese artist has once again accepted an invitation from Bernard Fibicher, director of the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne (mcb-a).
The exhibition in Lausanne is bringing together more than 40 items dating from 1995 up to the present: works in porcelain, wood, marble, jade, glass, bamboo, and silk, together with wallpaper, photographs and videos, all testifying to the rich variety of the artist's work and his profound knowledge of his country's cultural heritage. At the same time – and here we detect a spirit akin to that of Marcel Duchamp – in a playful or iconoclastic way he rechannels his traditional motifs, methods and materials into a critique, overt or covert, of the Chinese political system. His most recent works bear on the troubling complexity of international matters including economic dependency and refugee flows. This mcb-a event hails a true all-rounder: a remarkable visual artist, an encyclopedic mind, a gifted transmitter of ideas and a man coming to grips with the major issues of today's world. Ai Weiwei may well be the first truly "global" artist.
Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957. After living in the United States for ten years, in 1993 he began expanding his artistic horizons and took up the cause of his fellow Chinese artists. Imprisoned in China for his political outspokenness – notably regarding official concealment of the humanitarian disaster that followed the 2008 Sichuan earthquake – he was released in response to worldwide protests, and now lives in Berlin. In his sculpture he renews and subverts Chinese craft traditions while at the same time parodying Pop Art and American Minimalism. With photography and film he records urban change and populations shifts. Prolific and dedicated, this remarkable artist and virtuoso user of the social networks practises a skilful mix of art, private life and civic commitment.