China supports its Creative Industries

August 18, 2009

Despite booming sales in the Asian art market throughout 2008, nowhere has been immune to the ravaging effects of global recession. The Chinese art scene was devastated by the collapse in prices that saw the disappearance of scores of galleries in the first months of this year.

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Hope is on the horizon however, and according to the Art Newspaper China is now witnessing the first tentative signs of recovery, underwritten by significant regional government investment in both Shanghai and Beijing. The Chinese capital and other regions are set to receive huge investments to stimulate “creative industries”—an umbrella term which includes the arts. Under this programme, said Dong Menyang, director of the Art Beijing fair, “the Beijing government has also set aside Rmb1bn ($146m) to promote cultural industry development.” Recovery is still a slow process however, and times are particularly hard for artist’s in Beijing’s troubled 798 district. Artist have been staging rent strikes in protest against the high studio fees whilst the area has also suffered a spate of break-ins, with galleries losing computers and suffering smashed windows.

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Hans Op De Beeck in 798

July 26, 2009

Galleria Continua has been a renowned artistic space in Beijing’s 798 District ever since it’s opening four years ago. The gallery offers visitors the chance to view exhibitions in which international-level artists devise projects specifically for the gallery space and to reflect upon their experiences. The space has become an exciting venue for presenting artists from around the world, all the more remarkable given the comparative rarity of such ventures on the part of Western galleries.

When I visited the gallery back in April I was wowed by the work of Belgian Vi artist, Hans Op de Beeck whose exhibition, ‘Staging Silence’, featured a large scale sculptural installation (‘Location (6)’), watercolors and an animated film. The work focused deeply upon Op de Beeck’s ideas of detachment and loss of self for human beings in these post-modern times. ‘Staging Silence’ was the artist’s first solo exhibition is China.

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Location (6) – Interior

‘Location (6)’ (pictured here), was a large sculptural installation which you had to physically enter via a long white corridor, finding yourself in an igloo-like dome, surrounded by the image of an endless snowy landscape. The installation is made up entirely of a sculpted trompe d’oeil, ingeniously combining light, shadow and artificial fog to create the impression of an infinite three dimensional scene. The experience felt like stepping into a giant, all enveloping snow-globe, mesmerisingly beautiful and tranquil. The artist’s intention was that the piece should draw the viewer’s eye inward, to a state of self contemplation.

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Location (6) – Entrance Corridor

Wax Sculptures

July 12, 2009

Wax sculptures at DoArt Gallery in Chaoyang District, Beijing. This was a huge, warehouse gallery and these wax figures were dotted around the enormous blank space. They appear to be mutated bodies wearing gas masks with various limbs missing.

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