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Eminent Chinese artist shares his bold artistic journey at MIA talk

Eminent Chinese artist shares his bold artistic journey at MIA talk


Ailyn Agonia
Doha
BEING a successful artist is not just about being recognised or being rich but, rather having a voice that is heard, said Ai Weiwei, a renowned contemporary Chinese artist and activist.
Delivering a public talk held at the packed auditorium of Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) on Tuesday, Weiwei shared his artistic journey with the audience, including his arrest and 81-day detention in 2011.
The event was organised by Qatar Museums and also featured Swiss businessman, diplomat and art collector Uli Sigg and art expert and curator Tom Eccles.
"For me, art is a journey into the unknown and unpredictable realms of life. That is why I love art. Otherwise, I will not call myself an artist. It is about finding a language to communicate and having a voice to be heard clearly and an opportunity to initiate conversation," he said.
Weiwei's works include sculptural installations, woodworking, video and photography. He has also carved out a niche for himself in architecture. He was commissioned as the artistic consultant for design in collaboration with a Swiss firm for the Beijing National Stadium.
When asked about his 'feelings' on delivering a talk in a building designed by celebrated Chinese architect I M Pei, he shared his first encounter with I M Pei in New York when he was still a student and briefly talked about his impression of the iconic MIA.
"I have not been able to look inside of the building yet (MIA), but from outside it looks quite nice and really very much like a local building. I see an image of a palace," Weiwei said.
Weiwei was arrested before catching a flight to Hong Kong in 2011 for being critical of the Chinese government. His arrest evoked mixed reactions from the international media. However, the international artists' community mobilised petitions seeking his release.
When asked about being known more as an activist rather an artist, Weiwei said,"It's dangerous to be called an activist. But, I don't care. However, I never wanted to be called anything."
The artist added that his works are based on his strong intuition and judgment.
Weiwei also fondly talked about his father Ai Qing, one of the finest modern Chinese poets, the current state of art schools in China and other personal details of his time in detention.
Aside from the public talk, the artist's visit to Qatar included tours of art and culture destinations and public art projects as well as meeting some of the young local artists such as residents of the Fire Station: Artist in Residence Programme.

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