In a Canadian broadcast exclusive with the CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi, Ai Weiwei says the martial arts star Jackie Chan was "playing" when he claimed to not know his name.
Ai has been called the most powerful figure in the art world, and a major retrospective of his work is now on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
But in an interview with Ghomeshi in June, Jackie Chan repeatedly said that he was unfamiliar with the artist and his work, including the famous Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing.
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Not possible, said the artist in an interview that aired on CBC Radio’s Q Wednesday.
"He knows me very well," said Ai. "He's very much a pro-government actor. And he's acted so extremely on the side of authority, which [has] already become laughable in the public's view."
Ai added that it bothered him that people like Chan who are "very influential" do not admit the truth and seem "scared of authority".
"He is quite well known, and he doesn't have to be like that."
Thanks AGO for its courage
Ai Weiwei has expressed his gratitude to AGO organizers and Canadian audiences for supporting his retrospective in Toronto, saying it takes courage to showcase a dissident's work – which itself supports "basic values such as human rights and freedom of speech" – at a time when western governments are trying to build smoother, stronger relations with China.
"I am very happy to know that my work now received great enthusiasm from the Canadian audience, and I have to say thanks to them," said Ai.
You can watch the full interview with Ai Weiwei here. You can also catch Jian's profile of Ai Weiwei on The National on Friday, Sept. 6 on CBC News Network.