Housed in a maze of red brick buildings, fittingly called ‘Red Yard’, along with a collection of other gallery spaces, Beijing Art Now Gallery (BANG) is a two-floor space with a dedicated room for projecting video. Founded in 2004 and now with a second location in Shanghai, it represents a dozen artists and has collaborated with double that number. After more than a decade of promoting the Chinese avant-garde within its historical context, BANG continues to be at the forefront of the country’s contemporary art scene.
Inside Gallery II at Taikang Space
A few doors away in the same complex lies Taikang Space, the first domestically funded non-profit art space in Beijing. Established in 2003 and bankrolled by one of the most profitable insurance companies in China, Taikang Life, the gallery’s motto is to ‘march forward by retracing our steps’. In practice, this means that its curators focus, on the one hand, on historical exhibitions that attempt to write a history of Chinese art that is separate from Western narratives, and on the other, to cultivate directions for new Chinese art.
Hitting nine galleries in a day is pretty exhausting, so stop at the light, airy and well-designed A+ Café for a quick cup of coffee and a break before heading over the main road to Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.
Three Shadows was founded in 2007 by RongRong and inri, a married couple who also happen to be among the most celebrated photographers in the world. The sprawling 4,600sqm complex features a large non-profit gallery space dedicated to showcasing contemporary Chinese photography and video art – as well as the more recent addition of Three Shadows +3, a commercial gallery.
Beyond exhibitions, Three Shadows maintains a library with volumes that number in the thousands and its own permanent collection of original works. It also frequently hosts fine art photography courses, utilising its black-and-white darkrooms and inkjet and video production studios. Through its annual awards, Three Shadows recognises up-and-coming artists in the field and, in collaboration with other institutes, also hosts an artist residency programme.