This isn't about collage art or collage technique like my usual blog posts, but I recently heard of the magnificent artist Ai Weiwei, and I felt compelled to share some of his amazing work and life story. Weiwei is still alive and working today, so I encourage you to look into him more if you're interested in his work!
Mr. Weiwei is the most famous Chinese artist working today, and by some accounts he may be the most famous man currently living in China. Some call him the Chinese Andy Warhol or the Chinese Picasso, but really Weiwei is more specifically of his own time and place, and he's somewhat more political than either of those other artists. Weiwei is a sculptor, an architect, a former blogger (until his blog was shut down by the government), and a master of self-documentation in the digital age. He's done a number of large and ambitious projects, such as the million hand painted porcelain sunflower seeds, pictured above. He also designed the Beijing Olympic stadium, although he ultimately declined to attend the Olymic opening cermonies, which he described as a giant fake smile.
In fact, Weiwei's political outspokenness is so famous (and so dangerous) that many have feared for his safety for years. When he was finally roughed up by the police, he made an audiorecording of the beating and documented the whole thing (including filing a formal complaint to the government) on his blog. Finally, a couple of years ago, the government even went so far as to bulldoze down his studio, which took him two years to build. Weiwei photographed and videotaped the event, calling it one of the greatest works of his life.
Weiwei is a major cultural hero in China, and his expoits are extremely noble, beautiful, and inspiring. He sheds a rare light on the secretive and mysterious innerworkings of China, but his numerous and multidisciplinary works really speak on a multicultural level. In my opinion, Ai Weiwei is one of the most fascinating artists alive today. I can't believe I'd never heard of him!
I'll include a few more pics of his work, but unfortunately I don't have the titles... Hopefully, this will give you more motivation to seek out more information on this amazing artist for yourself.
Artists like Ai Weiwei keep me interested in the whole field of contemporary art. It's rare to see a combination of such poignant sincerity and beauty in contemporary artwork, and maybe it's necessary to step outside of America to escape the veil of irony and cynicism that typifies the work so many contemporary artists. Here's hoping that Ai Weiwei remains safe and continues to help to make China (and the rest of the world) a better place to live.
I hope no one minds me going off topic on the blog every once in awhile. There's so much terrific art out there that sometimes I feel like there's not enough time to art blog it all! All I can do is try to share the artists or techniques that get me excited at any given moment.
If anyone has any questions or would like me to address anything in particular on future blog posts, please let me know! I'm so happy to have a place to discuss collage art and art in general- thanks for reading and please check back for more in the future. : )
24 hours after I posted this blog entry about Ai Weiwei, he was detained by the Chinese government and is now missing! It's a serious blow to human rights and artists worldwide. I wish there was some way we could complain to the Chinese government for silencing (murdering?) one of the world's most beautiful voices.