If you follow global art trends at all, then you must be aware of the tremendous following that Chinese contemporary art has been enjoying during recent times. Works by contemporary Chinese artists like Zeng Fanzhi, Yue Minjun, Liao Chi Chi’un have fetched record prices at auctions conducted by Christie’s and Sotheby’s. However this interest in Chinese contemporary art is a fairly recent phenomenon for during the time of the Chinese cultural revolution in the 1960’s and 1970’s art collecting was looked down upon and deemed as a ‘bourgeois’ activity. This approach to art collection has changed dramatically in the last twenty odd years with the advent of economic reforms in China.
These above mentioned economic reforms have benefited the Chinese economy tremendously and a new breed of extremely rich Chinese art collectors have emerged who has been snapping up all kinds of Chinese paintings, antique sculptures and prints. As a result of which numerous art galleries and auction houses have been established throughout China though much of the action is concentrated in the Chinese capital city of Beijing which in 2003 hosted, the First Beijing International Art Biennale that established the city as a note worthy art destination.
Beijing’s modern art scene is located within its art district which is known as 798 or Dashanzi. This area which is now protected as a Beijing cultural landmark was once inhabited by old munitions and electronic factories. In the early 1990’s local Chinese artists began to congregate here as they began to unofficially display their work in the hall of one of the factory buildings. This hall was soon transformed into one of Beijing’s most well known art galleries- 798 Space. Today Dashanzi which hosts more than 70 art galleries and artists’ studios is also populated with tiny boutiques that sell Chinese and western wear, restaurants and an international art-book store. If you are an art enthusiast and are visiting Beijing, then a visit to some of the city’s art galleries should be considered a ‘must-do’ on your list of Beijing attractions. Listed below is a list of some of the Beijing’s best known art galleries:
1. 798 SpaceCeramic 3 Sreet, 798 Road, 798 Art District, 4. Jiuxianqiao Road/Chaoyang District
This gargantuan art gallery is housed in the original 798 factory after which Beijing’s 798 or Dashanzi art district is named. 798 Space does not limit itself solely to art events but also hosts several forums, multimedia exhibitions, fashion shows, conferences, dance and music concerts as well as design and furniture exhibitions.
2. Art Scene Beijing798 – Dashanzi
No. 2 Jiu Xianqiao Road
Art Scene Beijing is also located within the 798 Dashanzi district and specializes in promoting fun, colorful works created by both emerging and well-established Chinese contemporary artists. Art Scene has a sister gallery in Shanghai called Art Scene Shanghai.
3. The Red Gate GalleryLevels 1 & 4, Dongbianmen Watchtower
The Red Gate Gallery is one of Beijing’s oldest art galleries which was set up by an Australian promoter, Brian Wallace. This gallery, which is open for business on all days of the week, offers a wide variety of works including oils on canvas, mixed media, sculptures, Chinese ink works, lithographs and much more.
4. Beijing Art Now (BANG)Building E, Red Yard No.1 Cao Chang Di, Cui Ge Zhuang, Chaoyang District.
Open Tuesday-Saturday closed on Mondays
Beijing Art Now Gallery which popularly referred to as BANG was founded in 2004. This art gallery is located inside of the Beijing Workers Stadium. It offers works by contemporary Chinese artists like Zhang Fazhi, Wang Mai, Li Bo, Qin Qi and many others.
Some art collectors however feel that the Dashanzi district has become too commercial now and they suggest that art aficionados should also check out the Caochangdi area of Beijing which is located nearby and which now hosts ‘hot’ new art spaces like the F2 Gallery.
5. F2 GalleryNo.319 CaoChangDi Chaoyang District
The F2 gallery which was established in 2005 is located within a serene courtyard and represents up and coming artists like Cui Xiuwen, Feng Shu and Stella Lai. F2 is open from Tuesday to Sunday and closed on Mondays. However collections at this gallery can only be viewed by private appointment.
Photo of a Bernie Madoff artwork by johnmcga.