Ai Weiwei first picture since release

Home again: The first picture of Ai Weiwei since his 80-day incarceration by Chinese authorities
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The artist outside his house in Beijing, last weekend
The artist outside his house in Beijing, last weekend

In this exclusive picture sent to Phaidon, Ai Weiwei looks relaxed and has regained the weight he lost during his 80-day incarceration by Chinese authorities. Ai Weiwei’s Swiss gallerist, Urs Meile, who sent the photo, spent last weekend with the artist at his home and studio in Beijing.  

Meile told Phaidon: “He is in good health. The detention could not break his incomparable presence and vigour, his humour and his alertness.” 

There were worries that Weiwei had not been given access to diabetic and blood pressure medicine during his jail term - fears that seemed founded on his release when he appeared to have lost a significant amount of weight.

“He’s full of energy and again intensively dedicating himself to his artistic creation,” Meile told Phaidon. “He’s contriving, discussing, debating, reflecting, as we know him. With the support of his wife, Lu Qing, his team and his friends he is about to review and digest the past two-and-a-half-months.”

Chinese authorities claimed Ai Weiwei had avoided paying taxes and had sought to destroy the evidence. 

Under the terms of his release, the artist is not allowed to talk to the press or leave Beijing. Meile said however that he’s able to “work without interruption, make plans and to realise projects together with his team,” leading to speculation that he will mark his incarceration with an artistic work of some kind.

Meile said Ai Weiwei thanked everyone “for the incomparable, worldwide support he had received during his detention.” 


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