Can a stop in Beijing become the art world’s favored warm-up to Art Basel in Hong Kong? For a growing number of international visitors—and many more members of the Chinese art scene— the answer this week has been an enthusiastic, “yes.”
Now in its second year, Gallery Weekend Beijing features exhibitions at 22 galleries and institutions in the city’s 798 and Caochangdi arts districts. The weekend was initiated in 2017 by by German artist, critic, and curator Thomas Eller, who saw similarities between the Beijing art scene and that of his previous hometown of Berlin. This year, a new director, Amber Wang, has taken the helm; she previously worked at Singapore’s multifaceted Linda Gallery, which also runs a contemporary art museum and an auction house.
Wang said that she first heard about Gallery Weekend Beijing from a Swiss collector in Hong Kong during Art Basel last year. Fortuitously, when she returned home to the Chinese capital, she said a member of the weekend’s selection committee got in touch and asked if she’d be its new director. To prepare for her new post, Wang made research trips to the annual Zurich Gallery Weekend—which serves as an appetizer to Art Basel in Basel each June—and to Berlin to see what elements of those cities’ events would be relevant to the Beijing art scene.