The Art Newspaper reports that ‘Lisson Gallery has indefinitely put on hold an exhibition of new works by the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, which had been due to open in London this week, following a statement posted by Ai on social media relating to the Israel-Hamas war.’
The artist told The Art Newspaper that his show has “effectively [been] cancelled”, noting that the decision was taken “to avoid further disputes and for my own well-being”. Ai says “these good intentions” have been “well-received”.
It is not clear whether Ai’s show will now be rescheduled. A spokesperson for Lisson Gallery says the matter is “still in discussion”, with lead times for exhibitions often stretching into years. According to a statement provided by the gallery, there were “extensive conversations” with Ai following the comment he posted online.
The statement continues:
We together agreed that now is not the right time to present his new body of work. There is no place for debate that can be characterised as antisemitic or Islamophobic at a time when all efforts should be on ending the tragic suffering in Israeli and Palestinian territories, as well as in communities internationally. Ai Weiwei is well-known for his support of freedom of expression and for championing the oppressed, and we deeply respect and value our longstanding relationship with him.
Ai says that, in the tweet,
He attempted to be objective and neutral without moral judgment, accusations, or evaluation of human actions. I understand that societal behaviour, whether at a national, collective, or religious level, cannot be oversimplified. This means we cannot use a simple moral framework to express the so-called ‘correct’ expression.
More Ai Weiwei on FAD here