Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei (Beijing, China, 1957) is one of the most influential artists in China. His work has always maintained a personal approach, shunning fashions and trends. Although he confesses that his real, unfulfilled vocation is to become a poet, the manner in which he articulates spaces, the radical nature of his installations, and the pure force of his provocative arguments create poetry in his work. His father, Ai Qing, one of the leading Chinese poets of the 20th century, was sent to a labour camp in a small desert town in western China, where he was forbidden from writing for 22 years during the Cultural Revolution and where Weiwei spent his childhood. He and his brothers were forbidden to read or even have books, as doing so could have incriminated them. Nevertheless, throughout his life and career he has been strongly influenced by the poetry of his father and the works of Rimbaud, Walt Whitman, Tagore, Baudelaire and other contemporary international poets who visited Ai Qing.