Renowned British sculptor Anish Kapoor has called off a planned exhibition in China over the ongoing detention of outspoken artist Ai Weiwei, his spokesman told The Art Newspaper.
The British Council had asked Kapoor to plan a show at Beijing’s National Museum of China as part of next year’s “UK Now” festival.
But the artist’s spokesman confirmed Tuesday he was “not going to proceed in view of the detention of Ai Weiwei”.
Ai, a constant thorn in the side of Chinese authorities, was detained in Beijing on April 3 as he tried to board a flight to Hong Kong.
He is under investigation for “economic crimes” and relatives of the artist say they do not know where he is.
The artists investigated school collapses in the 2008 Sichuan quake and conducted a “citizen’s probe” into a Shanghai fire that killed 58 people last November.
His detention came as part of a major government crackdown on dissent as China’s rulers in the wake of the anti-government protests sweeping through the Arab world.
Kapoor’s involvement in the project at the newly renovated Tiananmen Square museum had already been thrown into doubt when he denounced Ai’s detention as “barbaric”.
Despite Kapoor’s withdrawal, British Council chief executive Martin Davidson said he was hopeful that the project would go ahead.
“It is through cultural exchange that we best demonstrate the benefits of free artistic expression and build supportive links between people in the UK and China,” he said.-By Patrick Kovarik