top of page
  • Louise Wagon

Ai Weiwei's controversial tweet leads to the cancellation of his exhibition at the Lisson Gallery

The London gallery suspended the Chinese artist's exhibition, scheduled for November, after he expressed his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ai Weiwei
Ai Weiwei. © Rick Pushinsky

All it took was a tweet. The retrospective exhibition of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, due to take place at London's Lisson Gallery, has been cancelled due to a tweet published in October, in which the artist gives his opinion on the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

In response to an unknown Internet user, the artist wrote that "the sense of guilt linked to the persecution of the Jewish people has sometimes been transferred to the Arab world". He also mentioned relations between Israel and the United States. "The $3 billion in annual aid given to Israel has for decades been considered one of the most valuable investments ever made by the United States. This partnership is often described as a community of destiny."

In a statement following the cancellation of his exhibition, Ai Weiwei says he tried to write the tweet "objectively and neutrally, without moral judgment, accusation or evaluation of human actions". But he acknowledged that the constraint of simplicity, imposed by the social network, made it difficult to produce "what we call, the correct expression." Ai Weiwei accepted the gallery's decision, believing it "was taken to avoid further litigation and for [his] own well-being".

But for this activist, who denounces the censorship exercised in China and who fled his country for this very reason, this decision raises the question of freedom of expression. He added in his lengthy tweet: "In art, when there are no-go areas, the result is the kind of art we often see today. It comes from a good upbringing, where certain expressions are favored and others shunned. Without freedom of expression, the fundamental existence of art and expression would be in peril."

Ai Weiwei's studio has also announced that his solo exhibition "Butterfly", scheduled to run from November 4 to January 6, 2024 at Galerie Max


bottom of page