Ai Weiwei is ringing in the Chinese New Year with a new print release with Avant Arte. Entitled Guardian, the artwork makes reference to the myriad symbols and motifs that the Chinese dissident artist has employed throughout his over 30-year career, but done so in a way that is, characteristic to Weiwei’s practice, a satirical commentary on global affairs.
Described by the artist as “a divine self portrait”, the character prominent at the center alludes to the Chinese Menshen (Door Gods), which are placed at an entrance to protect those within its barriers. Weiwei recognizes that artists are sometimes viewed as gatekeepers and harbingers of cultural change. “This self portrait serves as a visualization of my ongoing struggle within the realm of reality,” noted the artist in a statement.
Surrounding this satirically divine image of Weiwei are smaller images pertaining surveillance, Twitter and handcuffs, prominent themes he’s spent his career exploring, despite crackdowns on him on multiple occasions by his home government. There are also more discreet allusions to mythology, such as the dragon, which symbolizes the upcoming Chinese New Year and what Weiwei believes to be a complex relationship that modern China has with its own history.
Guardian is a time-limited print that will be available framed ($1,056 USD) and unframed ($715 USD) for only 24 hours on February 15 at 9am ET. The two-color silkscreen is finished with a metallic glitter base player and printed on 410gsm Somerset Tub Sized Radiant White paper.