Guangzhou Art Guide

Guangzhou, the capital of China's southern Guangdong Province, is perhaps best known for its triennial, but it's also home to some of the country's leading institutions and art spaces, many of which occupy unusual spaces.

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Adapted from the Guangzhou Biennial by the Guangdong Museum of Art in 2002, the Guangzhou Triennial is one of the most longstanding events of its kind in China. Its sixth edition in 2018 drew 49 artists from 12 countries. Building on that success, the Airport Biennale was added to the city's art calendar in 2019. The event takes place not at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport but the nearby village of Fenghe, now renamed "Guangzhou Wings — Airport Cultural Town".

Also in the north of the city, on the way to the airport, is the Guangdong Times Museum, which is affixed to the upper floors of an apartment compound thanks to a novel design by OMA architects Rem Koolhaas and Alain Fouraux. Since opening in 2010, the museum has proven to be one of China's most ambitious, showing leading artists such as Pipilotti Rist, Adel Abdessemed and Jiang Zhi while striving to engage its local community through a strong events and education programme. Alongside the museum is Huangbian (HB) Station, a storefront space for studying contemporary art the Guangdong Times Museum established to accommodate teachers Huang Xiaopeng and Xu Tan after they were dismissed from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.

The Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts has its own art museum too, but more engaging institutions in the city include the non-profit Fei Gallery, the stack of old railway containers that comprises the 53 Art Museum, and the YouYou Contemporary Art Centre (YYAC), which shows mostly new media works in a former Communist meeting hall. YYAC is located in the popular Xiaozhou artists village, a converted industrial site in the southeast of the city. Previously a cannery, Redtory Art & Design Factory is likewise a former industrial site, analogous to Beijing's 798 and Shanghai's M50, though significantly smaller.

The city's best commercial galleries include Canton Gallery, which was established in 2015 and focuses on artists based in the Pearl River Delta, Kuiyuan Gallery, which occupies an historic red-brick building built in 1922, and Bonacon Gallery, which was founded by the ubiquitous Chen Tong in 2016. Chen also founded the Libreria Borges Institute of Contemporary Art in 1997—a bookshop that professes to use literary methods for curating contemporary art by artists who have included Guangzhou-native Cao Fei—and co-founded Video Bureau, an archive of video art that spans Guangzhou and Beijing.

Other leading art spaces in the city include Vitamin Creative Space, founded in a run-down department store in 2002, Observation Society, established in a former hair salon in 2008, and Loft 345, a bar that has brought together artists, musicians, academia and other creatives and intellectuals since it was established in 2003 under the name Park19.

Current Exhibitions In Guangzhou

View All Past Exhibitions (3)
Contemporary art exhibition, Candice Lin, Pigs and Poison at Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou
21 March–25 September 2021 Candice Lin Pigs and Poison Guangdong Times MuseumGuangzhou
Contemporary art exhibition, Candice Lin, Toxic Semiotics at Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou
18 May–19 July 2020 Candice Lin Toxic Semiotics Guangdong Times MuseumGuangzhou

Contemporary Institutions In Guangzhou

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Guangzhou In Ocula Magazine

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Guangdong’s HEM Is the Art Museum That Home Appliances Built Ocula News Guangdong’s HEM Is the Art Museum That Home Appliances Built Shanghai, 18 December 2019

Backed by the family behind Fortune 500 company Midea, the new museum will be one of the largest in southern China. When it opens in March 2020, HE Art Museum (HEM) will not be hurting for space. Designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, it will have over 8,000 square metres (over 86,000 square feet) of exhibition space—almost double what...

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Exhibition Takes Feminist Detour at Guangdong Times Museum Ocula Report Exhibition Takes Feminist Detour at Guangdong Times Museum By Shanyu Zhong, Guangzhou

We might consider the exhibition space a domestic one at Guangdong Times Museum, whose exhibition hall has been converted into open spaces, chambers, passageways, and labyrinths for its current show, Forget Sorrow Grass: An Archaeology of Feminine Time (14 September–17 November 2019). Featuring 26 works by a group of 14 artists, including...

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Katharina Grosse on Mumbling Mud in Shanghai Ocula Insight Katharina Grosse on Mumbling Mud in Shanghai By Mikala Tai

In the summer of 2018, the K11 Art Foundation mounted a solo exhibition of German artist Katharina Grosse in Shanghai, bringing her immersive installations to China for the first time. Internationally acclaimed for a practice that boldly challenges viewers' perception of space, her playful work has been shown at institutions worldwide, from the...

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Li Zhenhua Ocula Conversation Li Zhenhua By Stephanie Bailey, Hong Kong

Writer, curator, artist and producer Li Zhenhua is the founder of Laboratory Art Beijing and the Mustard Seed garden. Li is actively engaged in the production, dissemination and critical discussions around new media, and has taken part in symposiums, talks and presentations at leading galleries and museum spaces worldwide, including ZKM...

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