Art Center 798

from my travel journal: 6 july 09
beijing, china

What a fabulous, eclectic space. It is a sprawling industrial area of garages and warehouses converted into studios and cafes and bookstores. Streets and streets of wonderful expression, from pyro-crafted old-school paintings to big red-plastic figures of a comic-book-esque Mau. The spaces were wonderful – lots of different levels and nooks, which sometimes only showcased one piece.

Often only a plaque-card would suggest I was supposed to step through the propped-open garage door, step over puddles, climb up graffitilous stairwells…to a gallery. I was bowled over by the focus on colour and space. One bright pink room had unmattressed black bunk beds. On a wall? A painting in a similar palette. Another adjunct blue room also had a sole work. A photographer’s studio proudly displayed a few fashion shots of white-clad models. The housing room had Dwell-style, white chairs and couches. The next room had a red couch under a shot of red-swathed models. Also there was a great sound system, suggesting the whole place may become a club when evening hit in a few more hours.

I liked a studio that was reminiscent of a treehouse, with two floors connected by an Alice-in-Wonderland staircase. The street-facing wall was all windows. Perfect light to examine the photographer’s larger-than-life collages. One was a whole wall of a b&w parking garage. Its levels were filled with different people from all walks of life – young and old, trendy and dowdy, posed and in-action. Oh, on the glass top of the studio was a coffee shop.

You can use your imagination to multiply that unique space by the hundreds that made up the neighbourhood. I often got lost because I’d find another alley and more entrances. So much fun and so inspiring.


About gwenamon

bookworm, confidante, creative director, cyclist, global wanderer, music lover, shutterbug, shoe shopper, snowboarder, writer, yoga geek. i'm also a very proud mama of a lil mister named james.
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