Initially presented in 2004 in Berlin, the gallery weekend is today a regular event in cities such as Barcelona, Paris, Zurich and Brussels, all of which have strong artistic cultures. Unlike traditional art fairs or biennales, which involve bringing the art pieces to a centralised exhibition space, the gallery weekend presents the pieces within their original exhibition sites in galleries, art centres or museums.
GWBJ focuses on introducing Beijing’s unique artistic landscape and its latest contemporary art developments to an international and domestic audience. Although the city is the unofficial centre of artistic culture in China, home to many of the country’s most prominent artists, it has no major art fairs or events to capture international attention. Launched just last year, the gallery weekend aims to fill that gap in the market.
“Beijing, as the center of Chinese contemporary art, is home to 80% of Chinese contemporary artists and a key city to visit for those who are interested in the Chinese contemporary art Ecology,” says Amber Wang, director of GWBJ 2018. “In Beijing, there are over 200 international and local contemporary art galleries, nine private museums, and art NGOs that explore the avant-garde art forms.” She adds, “GWBJ aims to present the energy of today’s Chinese art to the world.”
With a roster of 21 galleries and institutions from China and the rest of the world, the event will feature a programme of exhibitions, talks and related events that aim to promote the city’s artistic ecology and highlight recent developments in its burgeoning art scene. The upcoming edition of GWBJ will also see the addition of several new projects targeting amateurs and aficionados alike, including special activities such as tours, academic forums and salons by industry experts, as well as a new programme element called the Outdoor Public Project, which brings artworks outside of exhibition confines and into open space.
This year’s edition also features a varied lineup of homegrown and foreign artists, from German-based multimedia artist Jonathan Meese, well-known for his installations and performance art, to Chinese multidisciplinary artist Shao Fan, who blends contemporary aesthetics with traditional Chinese philosophy.
“The successful first edition in March 2017 set the foundation for GWBJ as an important platform for international industry professionals to exchange experiences and share practices in contemporary art,” explains Wang. “As this dialogue continues to develop, the physical surrounding space becomes an essential part of the work.”
GWBJ 2018 will take place at a series of venues across Beijing’s most prominent art neighbourhoods, including the 798 Art District, Caochangdi District, and established art spaces located throughout the city. These include the Beijing Commune, a gallery which spotlights the works of emerging artists; INK Studio, which focuses on Chinese experimental ink; and the Hive Center for Contemporary Art, one of the city’s most influential galleries.
More information at gallery-weekend-beijing.com.
This article was written by Ilyda Chua for Art Republik 18.