Ai Weiwei Exhibit Satirizes ‘Year of the Rat’ in Bangkok

"Zodiac" by Ai Weiwei.

BANGKOK — An exhibition by one of China’s most famous modern artists and political commentators will be on display in Bangkok till Dec. 10.

Ai Weiwei’s “Year of the Rat”  is open to the public from Thursday through Dec. 10 at Tang Contemporary Art gallery at River City Bangkok shopping mall mall. It’s his first solo exhibition in the kingdom. 

The collection  includes 11 artworks, including “Zodiac,” a set of 12 lego zodiac animals. His message centres around the theme that 2020 is the first year in the 60-year gengzhi cycle in the Chinese calendar, generally known as a year of reckoning. 

The exhibition statement says the Year of the Rat “symbolizes the spread of filth, theft, and illness. … In this pandemic, many people have not lived to see the end of the year, and the things the experienced may reverberate in 180 years, turning them into heralds of things to come.”


Ai, 63, is known for his provocative art and political criticism of the Chinese Communist government, for which he has faced backlashes from the Chinese authorities. He now lives in London. 


Ai was one of the artists participating in the Bangkok Art Biennale who signed a letter condemning violence against pro-democracy protests in Thailand following the police crackdown on demonstrators Oct. 16.

“Scenes of overt police force, including the use of water cannons, being deployed against peaceful protesters have weighed heavily upon us as we prepare for the full opening of the biennale later this month,” the statement released Oct. 21 said. 

“That many of these events have taken place in the Pathumwan intersection where the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), a key venue of the Biennale, is located makes this response all the more urgent and necessary.”