IN­SID­ERS: BEI­JING’S EDGY ART

Tif­fany Wai-Ying Beres

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - TIF­FANY WAI-YING BERES CON­TEM­PO­RARY CHI­NESE ART CU­RA­TOR

GO: From its begin­nings as an un­der­ground move­ment post-Cul­tural Revo­lu­tion, Chi­nese con­tem­po­rary art has be­come a hugely in­flu­en­tial force in a glob­alised art world. Where bet­ter to ex­pe­ri­ence all the dy­namism of China’s thriv­ing con­tem­po­rary art scene than the 798 Art Zone in Bei­jing, the first and most im­por­tant art dis­trict of main­land China; 798dis­trict.com.

SEE: Once a top-se­cret mil­i­tary fac­tory-unit, artists be­gan mov­ing to the Bauhaus-in­flu­enced build­ings in the late-90s in search of af­ford­able space. From fac­tory floor to artis­tic in­stal­la­tion, gi­gan­tic open spa­ces are filled with bril­liant light, even on smoggy days, thanks to the saw­tooth win­dowed ceil­ings. Look out for leftover rev­o­lu­tion­ary slo­gans on the walls; artists orig­i­nally kept these red char­ac­ters so as not to of­fend of­fi­cials, but now they seem more like to­kens of kitsch.

LEARN: Home to some of the best-known art spa­ces in China, be sure to visit UCCA, a not-for-profit cen­tre founded by Bel­gian art col­lec­tors Myr­iam and Guy Ul­lens that has greatly ad­vanced at­ten­tion on Chi­nese con­tem­po­rary art. Check out in­ter­na­tional gal­leries — such as Pace and Cham­bers Fine Art — that fo­cus on art-world su­per­stars, and dis­cover emerg­ing lo­cal tal­ents at some of the smaller venues, like Bei­jing Com­mune, Hadrien de Mont­fer­rand or Ma­gi­cian Space; ucca.org.cn/en; ma­gi­cian-space.com.

EN­JOY: Most of the pain­ters and sculp­tors who once called 798 home have left due to sky-high rents. And yet 798 is still a won­der­ful place to find “artsy types”; a favourite hang­out for hip­sters and art stu­dents, this is a great area to spot fash­ion trends. The streets and al­leys that con­nect gallery spa­ces are filled with public sculp­tures and tem­po­rary in­stal­la­tions, and the dis­trict is one of the few where graf­fiti artists are sanc­tioned.

BUY: There is art for ev­ery bud­get at 798, from the street artists who will sketch you for $5 to mu­se­um­wor­thy works. The UCCA de­sign store sells trin­kets, fash­ion items and lim­ited-edi­tion art­work. Sales help this non-profit cen­tre put on its ex­hi­bi­tions.

DINE: Time­zone 8, once an art book­store and now a thriv­ing sushi bar and western-food cafe, re­mains a 798 land­mark. Or, in a court­yard set­ting at the north end of the zone, there’s Chi­nese im­pe­rial-style cui­sine at Na­jia Xiaoguan, fea­tur­ing healthy recipes ap­par­ently handed down by the last Qing em­peror’s doc­tor; time­zone8.com.

Tif­fany Wai-Ying Beres is a con­tem­po­rary Chi­nese art cu­ra­tor and his­to­rian based in Bei­jing for the past decade. She has cu­rated more than 30 in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions and con­trib­uted to nu­mer­ous publi­ca­tions about Chi­nese art; lo­tusartco.com.

Graham Er­bacher Graham.Er­bacher@news.com.au

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.