Ai Weiwei is a big, brawny hulk of an artist who has given his weight as 280 pounds. He has a tiger’s back and a bear’s waist, with a bearded face that shows he’s from the north. His good-natured smile hides a certain scorn. He is not loquacious but when he speaks, his words are sharp and to the point. Bei Ling, Chinese poet.
Recently dubbed the world’s most powerful artist, Ai Wei Wei is an internationally known sculptor, filmmaker, architect performance artist and provocateur. He’s exploited nakedness, often using photos of himself, to provoke considerations of ugliness. Quite the opposite goal from someone like Yukio Mishima who did body building to create as beautiful a body as possible.
The first photo below is from the recent Hirschorn exhibition, According to What? The background photos are taken from “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn with Colored Vases in front. The second is from Sunflower Seeds 2011 installation at the Tate Modern. The last is the famous shot of a naked Ai holding a tuffed animal over his middle.
After 2000 Ai became more forthright when photographing his own body. In September 2008, he took shots of his bulging belly and posted them on his blog. These images were meant to be shocking and make the observer reflect on ugliness. that have always been natural to him.
The last set of photos is from Ai Wei Wei’s youtube video in which he paradies Psy’s song and video Gangnam Style. He’s added a pair of handcuffs to poke fun Chinese censors. Apparently, to make sure Ai got it right, Psy stopped by the artist’s studio in Beijing to teach him the the dance moves. Ai wears a neon pink T-shirt, black jacket and dark sunglasses in the video.