Ai Weiwei
(Beijing, China, 1957)

Bombs, 2020

Inkjet print in colors on Hahnemüle German etching paper
130 x 95 cm
Ed. 78/100 of an edition of 100 + 25 AP
[Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio, © ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy Pascale Marthine Tayou and GALLERIA CONTINUA, by SIAE 2021]

After denouncing government corruption and lack of respect for human rights and freedom of speech in China, Ai Weiwei was arrested, beaten, placed in isolation and forbidden to travel. His activity as a dissident has gone hand in hand with his artistic career. His output allows us to explore his ambivalent rapport both with Western culture and with the culture of his own country – torn between a deep-rooted sense of belonging and an equally strong urge to rebel.

Bombs (2010) is a print depicting a compilation of conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. It is part of a series of works by the artist about political conflicts and war, that have resulted in massive casualties and the displacement of more than 70 million refugees. The 50 bombs depicted here, developed by a variety of countries, range from a 1911 grenade to a guided nuclear missile created in 2019. In addition to this print, in 2020 Bombs was realized as a monumental wallpaper installation on view at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in Washington, and as part of site-specific work titled History of Bombs installed in the atrium of the Imperial War Museum in London. 

Ai Weiwei lives and works in Portugal. Major solo exhibitions include those at Albertina Modern, Vienna (2022); Serralves Museum, Porto (2021); Imperial War Museum, London (2020); K20/K21, Düsseldorf (2019); Mucem, Marseille (2018); PROA, Buenos Aires (2017); Sakip Sabanci Museum, Istanbul (2017); Public Art Fund, New York (2017); Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2017); Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (2016); Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki (2016); Royal Academy, London (2015); Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (2014); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. (2012); Tate Modern, London (2010) and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009). Among numerous awards and honours, in 2022 he won the Praemium Imperiale, a global arts prize awarded annually by the Japan Art Association. His human rights work has been recognised through the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent in 2012 and Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award in 2015.