One of the underlying commonalities among the sites Liu has painted is the deleterious consequences of modernization on a traditional society or group.
Even in this acute moment in our history, the artist is able to slow down his looking to find and celebrate the beauty of human determination.
The New York Times reports that the lawyer representing Ai Weiwei’s studio is fighting the $2 million USD fines that Ai’s studio faces for charges of “tax evasion.” Liu Zhenggang and Hu Mingfen have technically been released, as has reporter Wen Tao, but none of them have yet been seen in person. Statements by Chinese authorities say that Liu suffered a heart attack while under interrogation and was transported to a hospital.
Ai Weiwei is a media sensation, and that’s not a bad thing. The artist’s pioneering works, relentless activism and life-broadcasting on Twitter and other media have turned Ai the artist into Ai the figurehead. His role as a pioneer of contemporary Chinese art in the Western world, taking on landmark exhibitions like his recent Tate Turbine Hall commission, is an extremely important one. But for all the attention Ai gets, the giant sometimes overshadows his country’s other artists in a way that’s detrimental to our own understanding of Chinese contemporary art as a whole. Here are some other Chinese artists worth looking up, learning about and paying attention to.