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Beijing's 10 Best Art Exhibitions & Performing Art Shows This Summer
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Beijing's 10 Best Art Exhibitions & Performing Art Shows This Summer

Picture of Michele Cheng
Updated: 13 November 2015
The capital city of China is known for many things — The Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City are just some of Beijing’s big must-dos on every tourist’s list. For culture-hungry Beijingers though, the art scene is also an unmissable part of this vibrant city, and shapes the conceptual landscape just as dramatically as Beijing’s ever-changing physical landscape. Here are ten great theatre and art shows in Beijing this summer.

Performing Arts | Four Generations Under One Roof

12 – 17 August

The National Theatre Company of China’s dramatic presentation of Four Generations Under One Roof (四世同堂) is a classic that can be enjoyed at the Capital Theatre in Beijing this summer. First written as a novel by Lao She, the drama follows the life of a Chinese family living in Beijing at a time when the Japanese occupation of Manchuria — Northeast China today — was taking place. Another name that the drama is sometimes known by in English is The Yellow Storm. The novel was adapted for the stage and first toured the country in 2010. Following its initial success, the drama is once again hitting the stage.

Beijing Capital Theatre, 22 Wangfujing Street, Beijing, China, +86 10 6525 0996

Performing Arts | Raise the Red Lantern

30 – 31 August

Raise the Red Lantern is no doubt a name almost synonymous now with the National Ballet of China. This August, the classic is performed once again at the Opera House in the National Centre for the Performing Arts. Whether a first-time viewer or returning to see the show for the umpteenth time, the performance is sure to delight not just ballet fans, but anyone who enjoys as aesthetically beautiful and technically masterful performance. For those who may not be familiar with Raise the Red Lantern, it is set in China in the 1920s and tells the tragic story of a young woman is forced into an arranged marriage — although her heart still belongs to another.

National Centre for the Performing Arts, 2W Changan Avenue, Beijing, China, +86 10 6655 0000

Art | Selfie

12 July – 15 September

This exhibition truly shows a different side of Beijing, a side that stands in great contrast to the traditional images that may initially be conjured up in the mind. A solo exhibit by Liu Zheng hosted by Pékin Fine Arts, Selfie is a project that explores the role selfies play in photography in relation to personal expression and social interaction in modern society. With technological advances influencing not only the way we capture life, but also dictating how we live our lives so that we might best capture it, this exhibition also examines human beings’ pursuit of the ideal self-image in a casual yet insightful reflective contemplation of sorts.

Pékin Fine Arts, No. 241 Cao Changdi Village, Cui Ge Zhuang Xiang, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China, +86 10 8610 5127

Art | Value System

19 July – 17 August

Artist Yang Fan challenges our preconceived notions of worth in Value System, an exhibition hosted by Space Station this summer. What gives an object perceived value? Is it the physical properties? Perhaps it’s the sentiment represented? Whatever the answer may be, Fan has decided to push the boundaries of aesthetic convention by questioning the validity of these rules. The method by which objects of high to low value on the system are examined, to level the playing field, is quite simple — Yan places them all under hard light, and attempts to void any context in which these objects might be viewed to eliminate any bias. Precious gem stones are compared with cheap, plastic buttons… but out of context, what does the viewer really see? After all, both can be seen as beautiful in their own way. Value System is based on a simple idea, but really challenges some deep-rooted thinking.

Space Station, 4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Beijing, China, +86 10 5978 9671

Art | American Myth

13 July – 13 August

Images of cowboys and horses may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you picture yourself visiting an art gallery in Beijing this summer, but that is just what you will find at Aye Gallery. Hannes Schmid is truly an international artist. He was born in Zurich, Switzerland and studied photography in Cape Town, South Africa. His latest exhibition is held in Beijing, and the content features the all-American cowboys of the West. The beautiful way in which each frame is shot though reveals a very deep and sophisticated appreciation for the culture that is the Wild West, and there is a certain nostalgia that can be felt in each photograph. This exhibition will surely be a visual treat for anyone with an appreciation for sunset and adventure.

Aye Gallery, Beijing, China, +86 10 8422 1726

American Myth | Aye Gallery
American Myth Exhibition | Courtesy of Aye Gallery

Art | 20140706

7 July – 30 August

20140706 features Shanghai-based artist Liang Yue’s videos of local neighbourhoods on a particular day. It is simple but beautifully effective in capturing the essence of daily life in the area. Yue’s camera is placed at a stationary location and focuses at what first glance may pass off as insignificant events: people meandering through a quiet park, cars passing by at a busy intersection, random pedestrians wandering the streets, etc. There is something interesting though about these seemingly mundane aspects of life that can be so easily overlooked. And there is a certain tranquility in being a silent observer as we are reminded of the little things around us.

Arrow Factory, 38 Jian Chang Hu Tong, Beijing, China

Art | Crafting the Inner Life of Timber

6 July – 30 September

This exhibition is all about making sense — or perhaps, embracing the complexity — of contradictions. Artist Ye Sen’s Crafting the Inner Life of Timber at Red Gate Gallery fuses the traditional with the contemporary, the community with the independent, and the East with the West. The method by which this is done is by the use of wood, with sculptures that are each created out of a single log. Ye Sen observes that though his creations may each be different, they are all connected by their point of origin — a piece of wood. In some way, this concept can be translated to define and make sense of the diversity in our world in a harmonious manner.

Red Gate Gallery, Dongcheng, Beijing, China, +86 10 6525 1005

Red Gate Gallery
Courtesy of Red Gate Gallery

Art | Geometry of Mind

29 May – 24 August

Geometry of Mind is a solo exhibition at ARTMIA Foundation featuring British artist Conrad Shawcross. The scientific undertones of the visual aesthetic is immediately apparent as unique geometric shapes intertwine to create abstract pieces of art that require more than just a quick glance to fully comprehend. The result is artwork that is energetic and enigmatic. Come up with your own interpretation of each piece, as each is intended to instil a different emotion and response from the viewer. Some may leave you feeling somewhat melancholy, while others may leave you with an amused smile. Whatever your reaction, Shawcross’ scientific and mechanical sculptures carry with it a certain philosophy for those looking to be challenged by art.

Art Mia Foundation, Beijing, China, +86 10 8457 4550

Conrad Shawcross Exhibition
Conrad Shawcross Exhibition | Courtesy of Art Mia Foundation

Art | 12 Artists with 76 Works on Paper

19 July – 10 August

Art Seasons Gallery will be presenting an exhibition featuring the works of 12 artists and their 76 works in total on paper. The title may not be the most creative thing in the world, but rest assured, the artwork is inspired. Art Seasons was first founded in Singapore in 2001 by art collector Terry Lee. Two years later, an Art Seasons gallery opened in Beijing — its largest branch. The gallery focuses on contemporary Chinese art, so if that’s your taste, keep an eye out for future upcoming events at Art Seasons.

Art Seasons, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China, +86 10 5978 9850

Performing Arts | Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci

13 – 17 August

Two classic Italian Verismo operas will be presented this summer at the Opera House of the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing during the Opera Festival. Cavalleria Rusticana was first performed in Rome in 1890, and I Pagliacci in Mian two years later. The NCPA will be working with a world-renowned team led by director Giancarlo del Monaco, who has already directed the two operas for Teatro Real in Madrid.

National Centre for the Performing Arts, 2W Changan Avenue, Beijing, China, +86 10 6655 0000

By Michele Cheng