Like much of Shepard Fairey's work, his newest piece takes a political stand. It depicts Chinese dissent artist Ai Weiwei in Fairey's signature style, and the portrait shows Ai with a gash across his head. The injury references a surgery Ai underwent after an altercation with the Chinese police in 2010.
Fairey's poster demonstrates his support of his fellow artist's anti-authoritarian agenda and his sympathy with Ai's political status. It has been created in collaboration with Friends of Ai Weiwei, a group of people who are trying to get back Ai's passport, which was confiscated by Chinese authorities.
“I admire Ai Weiwei for his art and his activism. His art is beautiful in form, and in function embodies the principles of populism and social consciousness I aspire to in my own practice,” said Shepard Fairey in the press release. “This poster is a tribute to Ai Weiwei’s art, his courage to be outspoken, and in support of his ongoing political struggle with the Chinese government. I hope the image will help raise awareness and advance dialogue that might lead to permission for Ai Weiwei to travel freely and continue to express himself.”
Ai Weiwei has been under house arrest since 2011, the same year he spent 81 days in prison under questionable charges. Fairey's poster shows his support of the Chinese artist's plight and speaks out against his mistreatment.
Proceeds from the 375 posters will go to helping Friends of Ai Weiwei. 100 have been donated to the Brooklyn Museum, which opens "Ai Weiwei: According to What?" in April.