Prague, Aug 3 (CTK) – The National Gallery (NG) in Prague will celebrate its 220th anniversary with an exhibition of the famous Chinese artist and critic of the Chinese regime, Ai Weiwei, 57, February 2016, NG general director Jiri Fajt told CTK yesterday.
Ai Weiwei’s artifact entitled Zodiac will be displayed outside the NG’s premises in the functionalist Trade Fair Palace on this occasion and he will create a work of art exclusively for the NG in 2017, Fajt said.
In the autumn, Ai Weiwei should come to Prague to see the venue for which his artifact should be created – the lobby of the Fair Trade Palace.
On the occasion of the anniversary next year, the gallery will also prepare a display focused on donors and patrons who helped the institution at the beginning.
The NG will also open an exhibition of French artist Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) to be held in the Kinsky Palace on Old Town Square. Fajt said he would like to attract more visitors to the palace and turn it into “a shop-window” of the whole gallery.
Fajt has been preparing the exhibition of Ai Weiwei for months.
The NG will thereby demonstrate the openness of an artistic institution that should not be influenced by political interests, Fajt added.
Ai Weiwei has criticised the violations of human rights in China. He was arrested in 2011 and spent 81 days behind bars without hearing the charges or being convicted.
The Chinese authorities also suspended his passport after the arrest. He was fined with an equivalent of 59.3 million crowns for alleged tax evasion. Even though he was under house arrest, his works appeared in prestigious galleries all over the world.
Last week, Ai Weiwei got back his passport. He was granted a German visa and left for Germany immediately. British authorities first refused to give him a visa for being convicted, but they apologised to him, since he had never been convicted.
A large display of his works will be opened at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in September.
Ai Weiwei created the Zodiac in 2010 on the basis of sculptures designed by two European Jesuits serving in the court of the Qing dynasty Emperor Qianlong in the 18th century. Ai Weiwei reinterpreted the twelve bronze zodiac animal heads that originally functioned as a water clock-fountain of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing. In 1860, the place was ransacked by French and British troops.
The three-meter statues forming the zodiac will be displayed in Prague after touring Europe and the United States.