Ai Weiwei, 2012, Photo by Gao Yuan, courtesy of Martin-Gropius-Bau
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is about to celebrate the opening his largest exhibition ever, and he wants Chinese President Xi Jinping to see it.
In an interview with the Suddeutsche Zeitung published Saturday, Ai, an outspoke critic of China's ruling party, surpised art watchers by inviting Xi to his show set to open at Berlin's Martin-Gropius-Bau early next month.
"It would be good if the president found the time to go visit the exhibition. He would see how a man of the same age as him and from the same background can become a totally different person," Ai said.
Xi is scheduled to be in Berlin later this month, just a couple days shy of the opening of Ai's retrospective. So it's possible, but not likely. Ai himself will not be able to attend. He hasn't been permitted to leave China since his passport was confiscated in 2011 following a three month detention.
Ai added that he would like to talk privately to the president in person.
"We both belong to what is known as the second red generation. Our parents were the generation that founded communism. In fact, his father and my father were good friends,” Ai said. “I would like to talk with him privately, so I can understand some of these things that have been puzzling me."
Ai's show, Evidence, will stretch across more than 32,000 square-feet (3,000 square-meters) of 18 rooms at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, making it the largest, most comprehensive exhibition of the artist's work to date.