Art Guide

Beijing art galleries, exhibitions, news and editorial.

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Contemporary art sprung up in many cities after China's reform and opening in 1979, but Beijing quickly emerged as the most dynamic. Pioneering exhibitions by artists and collectives such as the Stars Art Group helped establish the city's reputation for an energetic art scene that drew in artists from around the country and then collectors from abroad. Now, with the art market thriving in Shanghai, Beijing is no longer the uncontested home of Mainland Chinese contemporary art, but its galleries and museums continue to put on some of the best exhibitions in the country.

The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) has long anchored Beijing's art scene with important retrospectives and surveys, such as Bao Dong and Sun Dongdong's ON / OFF (2013), an authoritative overview of Chinese artists born after 1975. After the museum's original owners withdrew funding, the UCCA's future looked doubtful, but director Philip Tinari cobbled together financing to ensure it endures at the heart of the 798 Art District in the northeast of the capital.

Many of Beijing's leading galleries can also be found in 798, including Beijing Commune, Boers Li, Galerie Urs Meile, Long March Space, Magician Space, Tabula Rasa Gallery, PIFO Gallery, the Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Platform China, and Tang Contemporary Art. There are also a number of important and engaging art spaces, including private institutions M WOODS and the Faurschou Foundation.

Many more of the top galleries are located just a short drive further northeast in Caochangdi, and while some have been evicted by the state, Chambers Fine Art, INK Studio, White Space Beijing, and ShanghART Beijing still remain for the moment. The 20,000-square-metre Red Brick Art Museum—founded by Yan Shijie and Cao Mei in 2014—is also located in the northeast of the city.

Between them, 798 and Caochangdi host Gallery Weekend Beijing each March, prior to Art Basel in Hong Kong. In 2019, the Beijing Art Summit was inaugurated to supplement galleries' exhibitions with a talks programme hosted by UCCA.

Other key galleries and institutions that warrant a special trip are largely to be found in the east of the city, including Aye Gallery in Dongcheng District and the China Academy of Fine Art (CAFA) Art Museum, the Beijing Minsheng Art Museum, Vitamin Creative Space, Song Art Museum and OCAT Institute. Out west, another noteworthy nonprofit is Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum.

Among the most intriguing independent art spaces are The Bunker, which is both literally and figuratively underground, hutong storefront Arrow Factory and DRC No. 12, a scrappy little art space in a former Diplomatic Residential Compound, all of which are in Chaoyang District.

While Beijing has struggled to build an art fair to rival the likes of Art Basel in Hong Kong, JINGART—established by the co-founders of Shanghai's ART021—is starting to get some buzz after its inaugural year in 2018, filling out the calendar alongside Beijing Contemporary and Art Beijing.

Image: Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China. Photo: Andrey Filippov (CC BY 2.0).

Featured Current Exhibitions In Beijing

Current Exhibition | Beijing
12 September–27 October 2021
Li Qing

Lighthouse and Cradle

Beijing 1st & 2nd Gallery Space View Exhibition
Courtesy Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing. 
Lighthouse and Cradle
Current Exhibition | Beijing
4 September–23 October 2021
Hu Weiyi

Geography of the Body

HdM GALLERY View Exhibition

Exhibition view: Hu Weiyi, Geography of The Body, HdM GALLERY, Beijing (4 September–23 October 2021). Courtesy HdM GALLERY.

Geography of the Body
Current Exhibition | Beijing
4 September–29 October 2021
Cheng Xinhao

Floating Wood and Drowning Stone

Tabula Rasa Gallery View Exhibition

Exhibition view: Cheng Xinhao, Floating Wood and Drowning Stone, Tabula Rasa Gallery, Beijing (4 September–29 October 2021). Courtesy Tabula Rasa Gallery.

Floating Wood and Drowning Stone
Current Exhibition | Beijing
28 August–24 October 2021
Xie Qi

The Summer Heat Has Been Gone For Years

Galerie Urs Meile View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Xie Qi, The Summer Heat Has Been Gone For Years, Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing (28 August–24 October 2021). Courtesy Galerie Urs Meile. 
The Summer Heat Has Been Gone For Years
Current Exhibition | Beijing
14 August–25 September 2021
Ge Yulu

This One is A Painting, So Is That One

Beijing Commune View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Ge Yulu, This One is A Painting, So Is That One, Beijing Commune, Beijing (14 August–25 September 2021). Courtesy Beijing Commune.
This One is A Painting, So Is That One
Current Exhibition | Beijing
11 July–10 October 2021
Daniel Arsham

Sands of Time

UCCA Dune View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Daniel Arsham, Sands of Time, UCCA Dune (11 July–10 October 2021). Courtesy UCCA. 
Sands of Time

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10–13 June JINGART 2021