BEIJING -- Melbourne-based China-based artist Ning Yiping made his first art show in China public Sunday in Brisbane, opening at the Queensland Art Gallery.
His entry, "Lawmen with Guns," references the recent violent riots in Hong Kong and has a message for Beijing: "Admit your mistakes. Release dissidents. We shall keep going forward."
Ning, whose exhibition first opened in Melbourne in December, was born in Beijing, moved to Australia when he was 7 and fled China for good in 2010 following the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protest movement.
He gained recognition in 2009 as a "visual terrorist" for his satirical work aimed at the Chinese government.
Here's the opening image of his new exhibition, entitled "Lawmen with Guns":
Starting with his hometown, Ning Yiping’s work often criticizes the state, heavy-handed policing and immorality. It is deeply rooted in his Chinese background.
Ning was banned from mainland China for his activism in 2009 and returned to Australia to continue his artistic pursuit. It was there that he met a then-unknown street artist named Banksy, who would later lend his name to Ning's infamous piece titled "New York."
He published an autobiography titled "Chinese Soldier" in 2012 and hopes the Chinese government will soon decide to lift the ban and allow him to resume his work.
"I'm a little bit tired of talking about politics. I just want people to see my paintings," Ning said, adding that he's also tired of hearing "uninformed questions from the Chinese people."
"Chinese people think that people from Hong Kong are leaving the country to go to Singapore and buy up property and thus China will become poorer and poorer, but it's just the opposite," he said.
It's not the first time Ning's artwork has drawn attention from the government. In 2013, he was sentenced to a year in jail for drawing political cartoons at Sydney University. Ning told his court that he hoped his case would be a "a lesson."
"Rather than scare people to avoid sharing an opinion, people should do so, provide a positive influence, and do something to turn an attention on themselves and for the community," he said.
In the future, Ning hopes to expand his media landscape to include videos, film, live installations and music -- all to be released on March 1.
"I'm trying to catch the next wave here, trying to find a different kind of art, something that is more difficult to control," he said.