This tour starts at the North gate to the 798 art district, located on Jiuxianqiao Bei Lu (酒仙桥北路) in the North East corner of the complex, close to D-Park.
Boers-Li GalleryBoers-Li Gallery
shares a courtyard with boutique hotel Grace Beijing, where you can grab a decent seafood-heavy brunch (Sat-Sun only) at their restaurant Yi House
, if you’re not too picky about service.
Boers-Li consistently puts on challenging shows. Most notable of late was group retrospective The Un-officials: Art Before 1985
in 2014, which presented work from many of the members of the vaunted Stars Group, considered to be the first collective of contemporary artists in China, and whose work, representing a radical departure from the social realism of the time, eventually got them in hot water with authorities.
Heading further into 798, stop at Linda Gallery
, which hops between large solo exhibitions showcasing internationally-reputed Chinese practitioners and conceptually intriguing group exhibitions providing a stage of lesser known names, as when they divided their space into one-square-metre plots, giving each to an artist to do with what they would.
White Box Art Centre
Besides boasting some of the most experimentally daring Chinese and international artists today, including Cui Xiuwen, Chen Jiagang and Bohumil Eliáš Jr, the lovingly curated design shop is also worth a look. Items for sale are somewhat higher than the normal tourist tat, with gorgeous hand-painted silk scarves that will put you 2,000RMB lighter of pocket.
Forge westward to 798 Originality Square, which houses the power trio of Pace Beijing, Faurschou Foundation and Gallery Yang.
With six spaces across the globe, Pace Beijing
is notable for bringing huge-name international exhibitions to Beijing, such as Diane Von Furstenburg (2011) and David Hockney
Not to be outdone, Faurschou Foundation
has in recent years hosted a number of household names of its own, from Lucian Freud, who set tongues a-wagging for his controversial portrait of the British queen, to Bill Viola, considered by many to be one of the fathers of video art.
Directly opposite these two spaces is Gallery Yang
, which makes up for what it lacks in international names with the audacity of its young Chinese artists: for Li Wei’s Thank God
last February, the entire gallery space was converted into a doppelganger of a Catholic church.