At WildChina, we love to offer our clients the chance to travel with visionaries who are experts in their fields. Recently, we’ve brought on board a new Beijing art expert, Wai Wai.
Wai Wai is an expert in Chinese contemporary art from the 1970’s to the present. She started her career with Swire Properties as a promotion manager for their upscale shopping venue Tai Koo Li and since then has worked with artists, musicians and designers on exhibitions and live shows across China. We sat down with Wai Wai to discuss why the Middle Kingdom is a destination for art lovers.
Question: What is so special about the Beijing art scene?
Answer: The art scene in Beijing is constantly changing.
For example, there’s a district of Beijing called 798. It used to be military factories before the Cultural Revolution. Now, it’s a place where people can experience the latest and greatest of Chinese art. There’s an electric atmosphere there where visitors can view groundbreaking galleries and museums. In the streets, people take wedding shots and artistic self portraits and a lot of shops sell art related products and ice cream. People just go there to fill themselves with the art environment.
I’ll give another example of a special artist that typifies the changing art scene. This artist of note is Wan Yu Ping. He’s a local Beijinger and his art reminds me of Old Beijing. The rustic and charming Beijing where you can see Hutongs and the traditional Chinese way of living. It’s not so international, but it’s something very attractive. The mix of old and new shows the ways the art scene is changing so quickly here.
Q: What should foreigners better understand about Chinese art?
A: Contemporary art in China is now a big hit in the international art scene. Sometimes the price of these artworks is unbelievably high. This has a good side and a bad side of course. For me, I’m happy to see Chinese artists and Chinese contemporary art play an important role in the contemporary art scene.
On the other hand, it’s not so pure. Some artists go out with an obvious intention to express political statements and others are very eager to label themselves. This makes their work less interesting to me.
I’d suggest foreigners come and see how art is in China for themselves, it’s probably fairly different than what your prior expectations would lead you to believe.
Q: What aspects of Chinese art are visitors most likely to be surprised by?
A: The appearance of a nice museum or gallery in China, or in any other country, is very similar. But, if you’re in an environment when you’re together with a Chinese audience viewing Chinese artwork you can feel their appreciation and understanding of the piece – that’s not something you can get from any other museum.
Seeing Chinese art works with Chinese people in China and being able to understand their view and perspective is something unique and special that I feel honored to share with others.
Want to get to know Wai Wai and form your own opinions about Chinese art in the 798 art district? Get to know the past, present and future of Chinese art on our tour: Beijing’s Contemporary Art Scene.