I just got back from a trip to Beijing and one of my favorite stops was the 798 Art District (also known as the Dashanzi Art District). Formerly a military warehouse complex, the buildings have been taken over by artists, galleries and restaurants.
The cultural, political and financial climates have aligned to make the Chinese art scene red hot and 798 is China’s premier hub of contemporary art. Home to over 50 galleries, there’s something here for everyone.
Our first stop was at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art. UCCA is a non-profit art center founded in 2007 by collectors Guy and Miriam Ullens from Belgium. It’s a huge complex and they’re currently showcasing a large installation by Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima. The exhibit centers around the Buddhist concept of impermanence. The pieces feature LED lights shining number 1-9, but never zero – which is the ultimate negation of existence.
Check out the gift shop at UCCA – they offer affordable limited editions by represented artists.
UCCA Address: No.4 Jiu Xian Qiao Road http://www.ucca.org.cn
We also enjoyed Galerie Paris – Beijing, founded in 2006 by Flore and Romain Dougoul. They represent photography as well as digital art. I’m a huge photography fan, and was delighted to find a number of my favorite Chinese photography artists represented by this gallery. On display was Yong Yongliang’s “The Peach Colony”. Referencing Song Dynasty author Tao Yuanming’s poem about a fisherman, he juxtaposes traditional Chinese scenes against a digital backdrop of skyscrapers and urbanized landscapes. Using Photoshop to emulate shanshui (Chinese landscape brush painting), the works are a commentary on how the rush for modernity is the ruin of paradise.
Galerie Paris-Beijing Address: No.4 Jiu Xian Qiao Road http://www.galerieparisbeijing.com
We enjoyed numerous street side installation pieces. Here I am being attacked by Liu Ruowang’s “Wolf Coming” is installation that is currently on display in Originality Square outside the Pace Gallery.
For a great gallery guide, pick up “Best of Beijing 798 Guide” at the Timezone 8 Bookstore.