Ai Weiwei opens the biggest exhibition of his career in Portugal

    The biggest exhibition ever held by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was inaugurated yesterday at Cordoaria Nacional, in Belém.

    Ai Weiwei was born in 1957, in Beijing, and has been working in documentary and visual arts for decades, always with a critical stance on China in human rights issues, but also in all places where there are refugees or persecuted for issues policies. Since 2020, he has lived on a rural property in Montemor-o-Novo, Alto Alentejo, with his 11-year-old son and, more recently, he bought a house in Lisbon, in the Penha de França area.

    The exhibition, set at Cordoaria Nacional in Belém, from June 4th, will be available until November 28th and is entitled Rapture, in Portuguese rapto, ecstasy or limbo of transcendence. It includes unique pieces in Portuguese cork and marble that coexist with other iconic ones, almost all marked by their strong activism for human rights.

    Altogether there are 85 works, resulting from the artist’s sensibility, where the taste for simple things coexist, such as nature, his animals from the Alentejo farm, and on the other hand «all the human tragedy expressed in his plastic and audiovisual work, where they are indignation and denunciation of the environmental crisis, war, refugees, censorship, political persecution, exile, restrictions on freedom and poverty in the world are evident”.

    When talking about his work at the exhibition’s press conference, the artist explained what is behind these creations: «My work became relevant because I went through immense difficulties. But I always continue to work with my conscience».

    The works by Ai Weiwei presented in this exhibition reveal the profile of the Chinese artist and activist, recognized worldwide as one of the most influential, interventionist and creative names in contemporary art, having been elected the most popular artist in the world by the international publication The Art Newspaper, in 2020.

    In addition to the exhibition showing some of the most important pieces of the artist’s career, it will reveal new ones, created this year in Portugal and designed in materials characteristic of the country, namely cork, marble and tiles.

    One of them entitled Pendant (Toilet paper), made of solid marble measuring 1.60 meters, represents a simple roll of toilet paper, and was inspired by the rush to consume this product during the pandemic. “This unrestrained demand for toilet paper represents the insecurity and distrust of people in the system in which they live,” he explained.

    @ Nascer do Sol

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