Beijing has served as China’s artistic and cultural focal point for centuries, and it now finds itself home to one of the most unique and engrossing contemporary art scenes in the world. Due to its recent economic surge, China’s capital city has experienced an influx of wealth, which has generated a dynamic art market. Sitting at the edge of Beijing’s avant garde is the 798 Art Zone, also known as The Dashanzi Art District. What began with a few groups of artists leasing the building known as Factory 798 (a decommissioned Soviet weapons plant dating from 1951) has become its own cultural brand that’s catching the attention of museums, auction houses, galleries and PR gurus. The 798 zone is now a lively and ever-expanding arts district that houses a great number of exhibition spaces and studios as well as many shops and restaurants. Here are some shows currently on view in the 798 Art Zone that are not to be missed:
Neo-Mōrōism | BTAP – Beijing Tokyo Art Projects
The style known as Neo-Mōrōism grew from the more traditional form of Japanese painting known as Nihonga. What separated the practice of Neo-Mōrōism from more established Japanese painting styles is the absence of any defined or descriptive lines. Neo-Mōrōism is essentially traditional Japanese painting with a bit of a western flare, borrowing techniques practiced in oil painting to contemporize the form. The results are paintings that are subtle and beautiful in their execution; refined and restrained, and meticulously nuanced. The paintings mimic the experience of looking through a lens that has reduced an image down to it basic elements. Curated by famed art critic and scholar Pi Daojian, this exhibition serves to highlight the way artistic style can mirror the history and evolution of various cultures.
Hans Op de Beeck: The Night Time Drawings | Galleria Continua
For his second solo exhibition at Galleria Continua, famed Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck has created a series of watercolor paintings, sculptures, and photographs, as well as an animated film. The large watercolor paintings are black and white, stark and visceral with the interplay between shadow and light creating a gorgeous overall contrast. An artist of varied and extraordinary talents, Beeck is uniquely adept at creating an exhibition in which each piece is able to stand on its own while still fitting snugly into the overall vision of the whole.
Liu Jianhua “Square” | Pace Gallery
Artist Liu Jianhua is one of China’s premiere sculptors and installation artists. His work reflects various social and economic issues in contemporary China in an oblique manner through abstract installations. In his Christian Dior-supported solo exhibition at Pace, “Square,” he uses the entire grand exhibition hall to create what is essentially one large flowing floor of squares, circles, shapes and splatters. The exhibition is inspired by brevity, it’s decidedly modern, yet it evokes a great sense of the space, and grasp of the field of vision. Aesthetically, “Square” is unique and striking, while simultaneously positing many questions about its creation and meaning.
The Los Angeles Project | UCCA- The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, a large not-for-profit art center in the 798 district, is currently featuring an exhibition entitled “The Los Angeles Project” which consists of various work completed by artists who call the City of Angels home. The space and various galleries at the UCCA are put to good use, as all seven of the featured LA artists have ample space to display their widely varied works. These comprise barrel sculptures, bronze sculptures, charcoal drawings, films, furniture made of silicon and a large mural depicting the experience of driving through Los Angeles. The exhibition provides a creative window into the city of Los Angeles in the urban setting of Beijing, which itself is no stranger to spectacle and traffic jams.
Photo courtesy of: Jirka Matousek