Miss Gioia

Monday, August 20, 2007


Beijing's 798 art district is a renovated factory area just outside of the fourth ring road. This place used to be remote, relatively speaking, but the creep of urban expansion has now encased it within the city proper. Originally, this area was a place where artists found cheap studio space within the crumbling walls of abandoned factory floors. Now it is closer to a community of gallery and restaurant owners, who are better positioned to pay the high rents and allow the commercialization that comes with popularity.

Art, especially political art, is hard to show and sell here. Some of China's best known artists work and exhibit only outside of China. But, times are changing, and either the government is getting more tolerant (mmm... not likely) or the global art community is looking for future potential. Either way, the buzz is that China's art is hot, full of burgeoning artists who are talented, if not controversial.

Chris and I toured the 798 space today. It was my birthday outing, and we had a really nice time popping in and out of gallery after gallery with concrete floors and whitewashed walls.

I think this is a definite "to-do" area in Beijing, once you have dispensed with the ubiquitous wall. The art was enjoyable. I particularly like big art - big sculptures, big canvases, big bronzes - and 798 did not disappoint. I was surprised by all of the military themed work exhibited. However, nothing really struck me as being cutting edge or bohemian. I guess you still need to go to New York to see controversial Chinese art, which is unfortunate.

Clearly, this is a nice community space, which will hopefully encourage Chinese artists to grow and test their boundaries as the scene here matures. I just hope the graffiti gets more sophisticated soon.

More 798 pictures here and here.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home