The Ai Weiwei and Luc Tuymans bromance!

What did the talk turn to when the Belgian painter visited Ai Weiwei's first ever show in China?
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Ai Weiwei and Luc Tuymans in Berlin, June 2015. Images courtesy Ai Weiwei's Instagram
Ai Weiwei and Luc Tuymans in Berlin, June 2015. Images courtesy Ai Weiwei's Instagram

Luc Tuymans and Ai Weiwei are among the most important artists working today. Yet, prominence aside, what else do they have in common? Ai creates works in a dizzying variety of media, from films to porcelain, kites and Lego, while Tuymans has devoted himself pretty much exclusively to painting.

 

Luc Tuymans in Beijing. Image courtesy of Ai Weiwei's Instagram
Luc Tuymans in Beijing. Image courtesy of Ai Weiwei's Instagram

Look a little deeper though, and there’s a thematic kinship. Both examine the less savoury side of their respective nation’s histories in their art, and both are absolutely unafraid to stir up controversy.

Tuymans was embroiled in a court case with a Belgian right-wing newspaper earlier this year, while Ai has STILL to receive his passport back from the Chinese authorities following his imprisonment in 2011. 

 

Taking a cigarette break. Image courtesy of Ai Weiwei's Instagram
Taking a cigarette break. Image courtesy of Ai Weiwei's Instagram

Ai and Tuymans have worked together in the past. In 2009, the pair curated The State of Things, an extremely solid, new group exhibition of contemporary Chinese and Belgian artists.

So, when Luc got the chance to visit Beijing recently, he rekindled his friendship with the Chinese artist. Tuymans took the opportunity to take in Ai’s debut Chinese solo exhibition, currently on show at two adjacent galleries in the capital’s 798 art district. There’s little by way of formal painting in that show; the main piece is a reclaimed 400-year-old temple. Yet we’re sure that Tuymans found plenty to inspire him.

 

Tuymans enters Ai Weiwei's debut solo exhibition. Image courtesy of Ai Weiwei's Instagram
Tuymans enters Ai Weiwei's debut solo exhibition. Image courtesy of Ai Weiwei's Instagram

For more on Ai's new show, go here. For a more comprehensive look at his life and work, buy our Ai Weiwei Contemporary Artist Series book; and for more on Tuymans' brilliant paintings consider our Luc Tuymans Contemporary Artist Series book and Is It Safe?


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