For our guests who want to explore something different from the traditional museums, who are architecture lovers as well, we recommend some contemporary art galleries very highly!
As must-see places, Beijing, Shanghai are cities U China Travel likes to integrate into your itinerary and in these two cities, the contemporary art galleries are numerous…
Here are our favourite ones…
The first attraction is the façade. You will experience and interact with the façade very differently depending on your relative position and time of visit. From certain vantages, the façade is perceptibly flattened revealing the embedded image, while from other points it may read as flowing banner frozen in time.
Beyond the undulating form, the perforations of the surface serve to filter light, during the day, rays of sunlight enter the vestibule, and at night the precisely tuned apertures reveal a triptych of Chairman Mao’s prototypical portrait. The expression of Chairman Mao within the façade is a nod to the historical context of the site.
Guardian Art Center
Close to the Forbidden City, “The Guardian Art Center is a lot more than just a museum. It is a custom-built auction house complete with museum quality galleries and state of the art conservation facilities as well as restaurants, a hotel, flexible event spaces, and integrated public transport infrastructure.
The Guardian Art Center is a new hybrid cultural institution that balances between the traditional and the contemporary, a concept that is growing more prominent as China undergoes major urban development.
As for the design, the Center’s architecture “strikes a delicate balance of old and new and pays homage to its surroundings. The building’s lower portion is a series of nested stone volumes that echo the scale and materiality of the adjacent traditional hutong courtyard houses, while a floating glass ring above exemplifies Beijing’s status as a global metropolis.”
The upper ring is composed from window-sized glass elements in a brick pattern that reference the textures of the adjacent hutongs, while the lower stone pixels are perforated with a lyrical pattern of circular lenses that is based on an abstract painting by one of China’s most celebrated landscape artists.
The 798 Art District
Bringing together contemporary art, architecture, and culture with a historically interesting location and an urban lifestyle, “798” has evolved into a cultural concept, of interest to experts and normal folk alike, influential on our concepts of both urban culture and living space.
The 798 Art District stands for much more than a three digit number: in Beijing these numbers symbolize the country’s cutting edge art movement led by the Chinese vanguard, unchained artistic personalities with alternative life goals. The largest, most influential art district in China – the 798 – hosts world-class international and Chinese exhibitions in the midst of former weapons factories.
The 798 Art District is a world concept to bring together the art loving population from all corners of the world and is also the connection between the Eastern and Western art communities.
Galerie Urs Meile
Inside the 798 Art District, Galerie Urs Meile has contributed to the presentation and dissemination of contemporary art, from painting and sculpture to photography, installation and video. While its center of operations is based in Switzerland, the Beijing gallery has established itself as an international meeting place for collectors, curators, artists and aficionados of the arts.
Galerie Urs Meile was one of the first international galleries to focus on the Chinese art scene and has been working on an international level with Chinese artists since 1995.
Pékin Fine Arts
Pékin Fine Arts is a Beijing-based contemporary art gallery representing international artists, focusing primarily on artists from China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan
In addition to hosting a wide range of gallery exhibits in the Beijing gallery, Pékin Fine Arts plays an important role in promoting Asian artists internationally.
Red Gate Gallery
The Red Gate Gallery is Beijing’s first private contemporary art gallery. Located in one of the few Ming dynasty towers to survive the destruction of the city wall, the gallery presents articles of China’s contemporary artistic expression in conjunction with the traditional.
Occassionally, you can see exhibitions of artists from more remote parts of China like Tibet and Mongolia.
Red Brick Museum
This museum in Beijing takes its name from the red brick used by architect Dong Yugan to create spaces that are dramatically illuminated by skylights, perforations and narrow windows incorporated into its homogenous masonry surfaces windows that help to control the levels of light and air reaching the interior.
Architect Dong Yugan, who is a professor at Peking University’s Architecture Research Center, designed the building using red brick as the main cladding material for a two-storey structure that sits above a basement housing a projection room.
The upper levels contain nine exhibition spaces, two public recreation areas, a lecture hall, dining room, cafe and various other facilities.
As part of the architectural project for the museum, Dong also created a landscaped garden featuring contrasting dark brick that is used to form pathways, walls and seating areas. The playful gardens that extend the visiting experience beyond the walls of the museum reference the principles used to lay out traditional Chinese gardens.
Once inside the museum compound, it is obvious that this is about a pure celebration of masonry architecture and garden making and it’s hard not to marvel at the architect’s ability to create richness and drama in seemingly minute and confined areas.
Minsheng Art Museum
The Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum (M21) was founded by the China Minsheng Banking Corporation (CMBC – a private financial institution) for the purpose of promoting contemporary art and culture.
The museum is located in the former French pavilion of the 2010 World Expo. In 2011 after the closing of the Expo, the French government, Shanghai Municipal Government and the Shanghai World Expo Development Group organized the repurposing of the building to be a comprehensive museum—a platform for creativity, the arts, humanities and contemporary art exchanges, servicing the local population of Shanghai and visitors from abroad.
In the interest of fostering an understanding of art within the general public and creating a pluralistic landscape of art and culture, M21 is creating a dialogue between pure art, and applied art; traditional and the avant-garde, to break down the barriers and close the gap between art and the general public.
Minsheng champions independence, freedom, inclusiveness and openness as its core concepts and strives for lasting international prestige.
The Power Station of Art
The Power Station of Art is a contemporary art museum and it is also the main site for the Shanghai Biennale.
Housed in a former power station, it is China’s first state run contemporary art museum. The museum is on the site of the Expo 2010 and on the left bank of the Huangpu River. It opened in 2012 with an exhibition of contemporary art from the Parisian gallery Centre Pompidou entitled Portrait of the Times. The Power Station of Art is an impressive but cumbersome space, a huge building like the London’s Tate Modern is.
The Power Station of Art is rebuilt from its original site, Power Station of South City. In 2010, during Shanghai EXPO, it was considered as the ‘City’s future venue’. It witnessed Shanghai’s shift from the Industrial Age to the IT era. Its rough and wild architectural style kindles massive imagination and possibilities of creation for the art workers.
As it is considered the ‘Production Workshop’ of the new urban culture, the Power Station of Art is keeping self-refreshing and ongoing the life source of the museum. Shanghai Power Station of Art is endeavoring to provide the community with an open showground for modern culture, hence removing the gap between art and life, boosting the collaboration and knowledge production between different culture and art categories.
Jade Museum Shanghai
Chinese studio Archi-Union has converted an office block in Shanghai into an art gallery with a concrete staircase twisting through its middle.
Made up of six components, the contorted concrete staircase creates a spiralling route through the three split-level floors, while additional corridors cut across at different levels.
With the willingness of deconstructing the straightforward logic of the space and blur the functions’ interface, it gives the visitor a feeling between rationale and randomness, creates an exciting spatial feeling at the edge of conflicting ideas.