Deeply involved in human rights activism and the social climate of his surroundings, Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, Beijing, China) is one of the most recognizable and iconic artists of our time. Ai studied at the Beijing Film Academy and Parsons School of Design.
Ai’s work spans a variety of mediums – sculpture, photographs, public art, architecture, and writing – through which he references Chinese traditional art forms in order to address contemporary political and social issues. He also uses sarcasm, juxtaposition, and repetition to revitalize the strength and meanings of the traditional symbols and to re-contextualize them in their contemporary setting. Ai’s intentions art not to pleasure the eye, but rather to challenge and discomfort it. His engagement with his the general public is critical in his work, and his acute, provocative commentary and outspokenness never fail to incite interest and passion in his global audience.
Some of his notable projects include Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995), in which he destroyed a 2000-year old ceremonial urn, and Sunflower Seeds (2010), where the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall was filled with 100 million handcrafted porcelain sunflower seeds. He lives and works in Beijing.
The cover of the fourth edition of the RxArt Coloring Book depicts Ai Weiwei’s colorful sunflower seeds from his Unilever Series, and includes a page of Weiwei’s work transformed into adhesive stickers.