22 International Art Plaza opened on Nov 15, 2009 on East Third Ring Road after years of preparation. Home to galleries, studios, auction houses and cultural organization offices, it is intended to be an international art block in the heart of the Central Business District (CBD).
Unlike the decommissioned military factory buildings in 798 Art District, 22 has refined architecture. It was so named because its architects were attempting to create a 22nd style of architecture, in addition to the 21 classic styles known in the country.
On the ground, there are 100 galleries and art and culture communication organizations. Seventeen are open, and the rest are expected to launch by the year’s end. The area also includes hotel-style apartments to provide artists with a complete creative environment.
If 798 Art District was a spontaneous response to the demand for art, then 22 International Art Plaza is a market choice, the curator of Today Art Museum Zhang Zikang said.
“Artists can create works in their studios and display them there, or they can hold their exhibitions in 22 galleries or at the Today Art Museum,” Gao Yuan, planning manager of 22 International Art Plaza, said. The museum, with four large exhibition buildings, will become the top platform for artistic works.
The streets auction houses also offer a place for upcoming artists to sell their work. Shops in the plaza sell daily articles based on the artists’ designs and ideas.
“We emphasize both art exhibition and sale. We are trying to provide a complete industry chain,” Wang Xotong, general manager of the plaza, said.
The management is cooperating with foreign embassies to also provide an inroad for foreign artists seeking a Chinese audience. The Italian embassy has set up a location in the plaza to open an architecture exhibition and the Ukrainian embassy is planning to show a series of oil paintings.
“China is becoming a new market for overseas artists. They are seeking recognition in the Chinese art circle,” Wang said. The growing number of Chinese collectors suggests they might find a market.
Young artists who have just graduated from universities like the Central Academy of Fine Arts will be eligible for free underground studios in the village.
Today Art Museum holds an annual event for young artists in Asia, including graduates from China, Korea and Japan, to give them a chance to show their work and swap ideas.
The plaza is trying to attract both domestic and overseas investment, and has achieved 70 percent of its goals since May, the general manager Wang said.
22 Art Plaza is expected to become a platform for international galleries. Zhang Baoquan, president of Antaus Group, the investor, said foreign artists have had a hard time finding their Chinese audience. He hopes the plaza’s international environment will give them new opportunities.