If you know Beijing, you probably agree that it is the most cultural city in China, much more focused on historical traditional scene than in contemporary art. But hundreds of sites and thousands of foreigners interested in Chinese ancient culture and history, and nowadays mostly driven by chinese economic boom, contribute to Beijing cosmopolitan city image. Most of the main government art institutions, galleries and national universities are located here. For all this, Beijing is an interesting and worth to visit city.
Amongst the multiple historical and world heritage sites the city has to offer, there is a place that is a must for all contemporary art lovers. Located at Chaoyang District, between some indistinct buildings rises the 798 Art District, which is based in the factory art village concept, in the early 50s it was a state-owned joint equipment factory. Here you can find galleries, art spaces, studios, shops and any kind of Chinese art and cultural expression that comes to your mind. Also, once you are here it is worth having a coffee in one of its modern style coffee shops, you can get easily some western food, good coffee, relax reading or brows on the Internet with a free wireless connection almost everywhere.
On the contrary, I got the feeling that Shanghai is trying to gain the race and more and more get involved in contemporary cultural and arts projects that place the city as a modern, dynamic and avant-garde city in China. Its famous art district; District M50, it is considered the hottest art district of the city and a tourist attraction…I will be there next week, so I can tell you more about it.
In both cases I had a feeling that China’s contemporary art scene is slowly growing and you can see it more and more exhibited, but still it has a long way to go…specially if contemporary artists are not getting recognition, moral and financial support from their government. China is different in many aspects, and specially for contemporary artists its difficult to create art if ideas are controlled.