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.

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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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