As collectors head to Art Basel in Hong Kong this week, the galleries and institutions of Gallery Weekend Beijing
came together this past weekend hoping to persuade them to stop off at the Chinese capital en route, and to assert the city’s enduring importance in China’s art ecosystem.
Gallery Weekend Beijing is funded by the Sevenstar Group, which owns the 798 Art District, a creative park that feels, at times, like a fortress for contemporary art in Beijing. The event, which opened to VIPs on March 22nd and continues through the 29th, expanded its programming this year, furthering its ambition to transcend its boundaries.
“Although it comes out of the 798 Art District, the concept of Gallery Weekend Beijing goes beyond 798, and not even Beijing is the limit,” said Amber Wang, who has been director of the event for two of its three editions. “We’re doing a lot of exchanges with different districts, cities and countries, focusing on the pioneering role of Chinese contemporary art.”
Gallery Weekend Beijing includes a plethora of initiatives, ranging from an emerging artists exhibition, a VIP talks program, an exchange with Zurich Art Week, and a prize given to the best show, from which 798 Art District will acquire a work worth at least CNY100,000 (around $14,900). This year, they also added the inaugural Beijing Art Summit, an impressive program of talks curated by curators Colin Siyuan Chinnery and Mari Spirito.
With 798 providing some of the missing connective tissue, several galleries muscled up to assert Beijing’s vital role in China’s art ecosystem. And for many, that importance is at least in part historical.
“Foreign visitors were quite intrigued by artists from the ’85 New Wave,” Wang said, pointing to exhibitions of
at Long March Space
, Liu Heung Shing at Star Gallery,
at Hive Center for Contemporary Art
at Platform China. ’s
sumptuous “Flesh and Bone” show at INK Studio
, showing works prior to 2000, similarly looked thoughtfully to the past.
Although there was significant nostalgia for Beijing art’s glory days, several galleries staked out space in the present, with one particular artist standing out.
“Among Chinese curators I’ve been talking to, the most frequently mentioned name was
,” Wang said, a perspective reinforced by several others. Below, we share Wang’s show, and four other highlights of Beijing Gallery Weekend.