NEW YORK—Ai Weiwei is probably the most prominent voice for free expression today. The turning point came in April when the Chinese contemporary artist was arrested and detained for three months.
Weiwei, who helped design Beijing National Stadium, the Olympic venue known as the “Bird’s Nest,” is popular in both the international arts and human rights communities. He has been criticizing his government for years, more recently doing so using social media. He has more than 113,000 followers on Twitter, a blog that the government shut down in 2009, and since his release he continues to be monitored by police and his house is under surveillance.
This month, the Wall Street Journal Magazine published “The Art of Resistance,” a profile of Weiwei, and Paul Kasmin Gallery inaugurated a new gallery space in Chelsea on Nov. 17 with a showing of the artist’s work. The fascinating display, “Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals,” features 12 gold-plated animal head sculptures on view for the first time. The exhibit at Paul Kasmin runs through Dec. 23, 2011. A larger set of the artist’s bronze Zodiac Heads is currently on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art until February 12, 2012.
All photos by Arts Observer