My Take

Ai Weiwei displays the art of megalomania in Lego row

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 October, 2015, 12:52am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 October, 2015, 12:52am

Dismaland, a dark theme park that opened for a month in Britain this summer, was a big hit.

A creation of the famous British street artist Banksy, the park was clearly intended to be a spoof of Disneyland, besides perhaps making a statement about the dark side of life in general. No doubt the Disney corporation was not pleased but at least it was not bothered by Banksy.

The genius artist and his worldwide legions of fans didn't insist that Disney supply its props and signature figures for his park. And even if Disney had refused a request, they would not have accused its executives of political censorship.

Not so Ai Weiwei .

Often billed as China's most famous contemporary artist and dissident, Ai is upset that Lego, the Danish toy company, refused a bulk order he placed. He claimed the company's decision was made on political grounds that amounted to censorship. Censorship? So far as we know, Lego is not stopping Ai from doing anything. It just refuses to supply its own toy bricks for public artwork over which it has no control, for an agenda it does not share.

READ MORE: Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to collect Lego from fans worldwide for artwork after toy firm refuses to sell him bricks on ‘political grounds’

Ai has launched his version of "crowd-sourcing" by encouraging his supporters to donate Lego bricks from around the world and denounce the company. There is no doubt he will collect enough pieces for his artworks.


A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on



The morning droppings

A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

Ai has used toy blocks before to create a series of portraits of political leaders and activists, including Nelson Mandela. He is entitled to free speech and expression, but no one is under any obligation to further his artistic or political agenda on the say-so of this enfant terrible of contemporary Chinese art.

Children and adults all over the world have enjoyed Lego toys for generations. It's just a toy, not a political instrument. Why should anyone lend their valuable products to Ai just because he has an artistic-political project that he knows will impress more with their company logo?

There are many brilliant contemporary Chinese artists. They may not be as famous internationally as Ai, mostly because they don't sensationalise their art like Ai, who exploits his dissident status to the full, knowing the West will just suck it up.

Ai's megalomania and sense of entitlement are breathtaking and his rabble of fans are acting like little tyrants.