A new exhibition of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s work launched in Taiwan on Friday, featuring a photo of the dissident giving a middle-finger gesture to the portrait of Mao Zedong in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

The show at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum also showcases other controversial works by Ai, including a picture of Wei Jingsheng, one of China’s best-known democracy activists, who spent 15 years in a Chinese jail before being exiled to the United States.

Ai, who is banned from leaving Beijing, suggested that his absence from the exhibition, his largest solo show ever in a Chinese community, had significance in itself.

“(My absence) will give the exhibition a special meaning,” he said in a statement issued by the museum.
Ai, who is one of the most outspoken critics of Communist Party controls and censorship in China, is currently being investigated for tax evasion and has been ordered not to leave Beijing.

He was released in June from three months in detention, following outrage around the world over the way he was treated by the Chinese government.

The influential Art Review magazine recently named Ai the world’s most powerful art figure, drawing criticism from Beijing.

The three-month “Ai Weiwei Absent” show opens on Saturday and features 21 sets of Ai’s creations from 1983 to present, including installation pieces, photography, sculpture, and videos.

The centrepiece is “Forever Bicycles,” a giant installation of 1,200 bicycles placed on top of each other, symbolic of a changing Chinese community, for which Ai finalised the design after his release.

A Taipei city government spokesman has said that Ai’s wife Lu Qing is planning to come to Taipei to see the show next month.