Published 2020, by

31 Days of Asia – Artist Highlight

May 6, 2020

ARTISTS: Zhang Huan and Ai Weiwei

Two outstanding examples of contemporary Chinese artists who are also incredibly outspoken about their beliefs are Zhang Huan (born 1965 in China, living in America) and Ai Weiwei (born 1957 in Beijing).

The two men, not far apart in age, and born of the same nation, engage not only in painting and sculpture, but in performance art and social media as vehicles for protest and activism. One calls to mind the infamous ‘meat suit’ that Zhang Huan wore – an assemblage of raw meats, intensely red and indicating musculature of the human body – which was a commentary on his perception of New York as an immigrant as well as man’s own “inherent animalism” (

Also a prominent artistic figure, Ai Weiwei has famously protested the Chinese government’s “stance on democracy and human rights.” From his own investigations to his arrest for “economic crimes,” Ai Weiwei has lived a tumultuous yet fascinating existence – exile in the United States, engaging in university education and then dropping out to make art, befriending beat poets and moving to Berlin after his most recent arrest in 2015.

Their contemplative and confrontational natures lend different styles to these two contemporary Chinese artists.

Post written by Crow Visitor Experience Services Representative Meagan Severson