Friday, May 20, 2011

798 Art Zone - relax without any temples or palaces.

In a previous blog I mentioned the 798 Art Zone (Dashanzi area). This area, full of converted workshops and military factory buildings from the 1950s, is a mix of Greenwich Village, SoHo and Covent Garden. It was built with Russian help when they were bosom buddies with China in the 1950s, with a touch of East German influence. As the factories closed, so the young artistic community found and built a new home starting around 15 years ago. Gradually designers, photographers and galleries moved in, and the increasing number of tourists brought in trendy bookshops, cafes and restaurants.

As real estate prices in the area rose, the Art Zone was almost closed down a few years ago, but lobbying by prominent figures in the art world has saved the area, making it a 'hip' place to stroll around in alone or with the family. I took some pictures during one short visit recently.

meet all sorts of people!

all done with mirrors
Plenty of places to sit down and have a cup of tea 
yes, that is a dinosaur's tail!

"Reincarnation" by 1970s artist - political themes are less common with these artists, who are more interested in the rapid changes in modern Chinese society.
Dinosaurs in the street as well - but safely caged
This last picture says "Missing You", exactly what I wanted to say to you all!

You will be sure to find something of interest in 798 among all the shops and galleries that thrive in the area. You can even stay in an up-market hotel or eat in my favourite Chinese restaurant in the area just by the north gate. Or just take a break in one of the coffee shops. I can take you there, and also the nearby ceramics shop I talked about in the March 13th blog. Or to the nearby China Railway Museum or another new art area called Caochangdi...oh so much to see in Beijing and so little time!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Feast for the Eyes - architecture and art exhibits

After last month's 'china' feast, and food feast the month before, this blog features another kind of East-West fusion, that of architecture and the arts in a modern luxury boutique hotel. I don't have shares in this company but some of my clients go there, and I love going there just to look around!

It doesn't look promising from the rather grey-green box-like exterior, but it opens up into a box full of surprises........ starting from a smiling doorman in front of 2 traditional wooden doors, a beautiful fusion of young and old.

A fine pair of exhibits, 'coat of arms' in Ming style china, greets you, with male in front of the female in good traditional fashion.

And then a wall of boxes, which actually is a representation of a Chinese medicine chest. This serves as the 'reception desk' for check in.

In case you haven't guessed already, yes we're in one of the top hotels in Beijing, the Opposite House (boutique luxury) hotel, where some of my clients stay, eat, drink or just stroll around. It has a striking minimalist style, and the architect was Kengo Kuma. It's situated right in the middle of Sanlitun Village, the latest 'hip' place where the trendy go to be seen.

There are numerous art exhibits which change from time to time, some light as a feather.
...others more life-like...
.....fancy an empress's embroidered dress?
......another feature is a huge stainless steel swimming pool open for all to look down on.
And even a modern dinosaur to greet you at the coffee shop, rather reminiscent of some you can see at 798 Art Zone - now that's a blog for another time.