China’s capital city has established itself on the international contemporary art scene as once-overlooked emerging artists make their way into the spotlight next to well-established Chinese artists such as Ai Weiwei and Zhang Huan. A vanguard of Chinese contemporary art, Beijing has matured and diversified to support a dynamic range of exhibition spaces in the Danshanzi 798 Art Zone (a former industrial area inhabited by Bauhaus-style factory buildings), and the funky, up-and-coming Caochangdi District. We profile ten of the best contemporary art galleries across Beijing.
Founded in 2007 by Belgian philanthropists Guy and Myriam Ullens de Schooten, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art is an internationally-acclaimed non-profit organization located in the heart of Beijing’s 798 Art District. Housed in a strikingly refurbished Bauhaus-style factory, UCCA has become one of the district’s main attractions, credited with raising the local art scene to an international level. UCCA exhibits a dynamic range of works by an impressive roster of international contemporary artists, while maintaining support for the local art community. The exhibition space now holds one of the largest collections of contemporary Chinese art in the world, and continues to host talks, workshops, performance pieces, and film screenings.
Three Shadows Photography Art Centre
Located up a quiet road in the vibrant Caochangdi art district, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre is Beijing’s premiere photography venue and the first of its kind in China to be exclusively dedicated to contemporary photography and video art practices. Launched in 2007 by a husband-and-wife duo who are photographers by trade, the center hosts landmark exhibitions by a selection of talented Chinese and international photographers. The complex, which was designed by acclaimed contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, features 880 square-meters of gallery space, a library, café, darkrooms, production studios, and spaces for workshops and artists-in-residence. The main center operates as a non-profit organization, but their +3 Gallery branch serves as their commercial venture.
Beijing Art Now Gallery (BANG)
Launched in 2004, Beijing Art Now Gallery is located inside the former Beijing Workers’ Stadium. In 2007, the gallery opened a second location in Shanghai’s M50 art district. The gallery’s primary mission is to support Chinese contemporary art in China, and to preserve it within the context of a global art history. To that end, BANG has collaborated with institutions from France, Germany, and Japan, amongst others, and exhibited at numerous art fairs such as Art Basel and the Bologna Art Fair. Exhibitions typically showcase the best of China’s avant-garde artists, including Zhang Fazhi, Wang Mai, and Qin Qi. Overlooking a lake, the space outside of the gallery is equally picturesque.
Red Gate Gallery
The Red Gate Gallery is situated atop the magnificent 16th century Dongbianmen Watchtower, occupying a prominent position in the city’s cultural landscape as one of its first private contemporary galleries. It was opened in 1991 by Australian-born Brian Wallace, who’s been involved in the city’s burgeoning art scene since his arrival as a student in the 1980s. With a world-renowned reputation for showcasing the best emerging local and international artists with up to eight solo shows per year alongside a strong residency program, Red Gate continues to shape the city’s artistic identity.
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