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Ai Weiwei. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio.

Ai Weiwei: Unbroken

Thu Feb 28 to Jun 02, All Day

Ai Weiwei is one of the world’s most influential living artists and human rights activists, known for smashing conventions—and pottery—with iconic works like Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995) that upend the cultural traditions and materials of his native China. While his work includes sculpture, installation, photography, film, performance, and architecture, ceramics occupies a singular place in his practice.

Ai Weiwei: Unbroken explores the breaking of boundaries, both physical and symbolic, and considers how the artist’s ceramic works form a basis for his ongoing exploration of social justice themes, including immigration and the repression of dissent.

The exhibition features some of Ai’s most celebrated works, displayed in Toronto for the first time, including Sunflower Seeds (2010) and Han Dynasty Urn with Coca Cola Logo (2015), as well as the monumental sculpture, Tree (2010).

About the Artist

Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, Beijing) is among the world’s most celebrated contemporary artists and one of China’s most formidable critics. His sculptures, photographs, installations, and public artworks often repurpose traditional Chinese forms and materials to address today’s most pressing social concerns. An outspoken human rights activist, Ai was arrested by Chinese authorities on April 3, 2011 and held incommunicado for eighty-one days. In July 2015 he was granted the return of his passport to travel abroad despite ongoing government surveillance. Throughout, Ai has continued to extend his practice across multiple disciplines, using exhibitions, documentary films, and social media to communicate with a global audience.

Ai Weiwei attended the Beijing Film Academy and the Parsons School of Design in New York. He has received the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (2008); an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Politics and Social Science, University of Ghent, Belgium (2010); the Skowhegan Medal (2011); and the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation (2012).

Ai Weiwei’s work has appeared in major exhibitions such as Documenta XII, Kassel, Germany (2007) and Biennial de Sáo Paulo, Brazil (2010), and has been featured in solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2009); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2009); Tate Modern, London, U.K. (2010); Asia Society Museum, New York, NY (2011); the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany (2014); @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, organized by the FOR-SITE Foundation in collaboration with the National Park Service, San Francisco, CA (2014); Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (2015); National Gallery of Victoria, AU (2015); Le Bon Marché, Paris, France (2016); the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI (2017); and the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2012, 2017).