The Royal Academy of Arts presents a landmark exhibition of the Honorary Royal Academician, Ai Weiwei.

Although Ai is one of China’s leading contemporary artists, his work has not been seen extensively in Britain and the Royal Academy presents the first major institutional survey of his artistic output. The exhibition includes significant works from 1993 onwards, the date that marks Ai Weiwei’s return to China following more than a decade living in New York. Ai Weiwei creates new, site-specific installations and interventions throughout the Royal Academy’s spaces.

In 2011, Ai was detained for 81 days by the Chinese authorities and his passport confiscated. In an act of solidarity and support from his fellow artists and architects, Ai was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Arts in May 2011. This exhibition will follow in the Royal Academy’s tradition of celebrating its Royal Academicians, continuing the strand of programming that has showcased some of the most significant living artists including Anish Kapoor, David Hockney and Anselm Kiefer.

The exhibition has been developed in close collaboration with Ai, who took an architectural approach to the layout of the exhibition, within the Royal Academy’s spectacular Main Galleries, befitting the monumental character of many of his pieces. The artist virtually navigated the spaces from his studio in Beijing, through video footage of the galleries and architectural plans. The curators also made regular visits to his studio. Ai Weiwei regained his passport in July 2015 and travelled to London for the final installation period of the exhibition.

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Photos: Royal Academy of Arts / Dave Parry.


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