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    Fringe art festival at 798
Xiao Changyan
2005-09-23 08:01

The first 798 Biennale was opened on Wednesday at the 798 arts district and Caochangdi East Art Zone.

It coincides in time with the official Beijing Biennale. Unlike the Beijing Biennale which focuses on established artists' works, the 798 Biennale features contemporary fringe artworks by young promising artists, most of whom are under the age of 40.

It clearly shows the shifting styles and themes of contemporary art in recent the last twenty years.

Some 33 exhibitions and three modern dance shows will be held in 50 art spaces and studios in the district from September 21 to October 20.

According to the famous art critic Li Xianting, from the end of the 1970s to the beginning of the 1980s, the psychological scars and reality of life made people thirst for humanity and truth. The subject matter for many works of art during this time was the common person, displaying a spirit that was anti-"cultural revolution" (1966-1976).

Many famous Chinese artists, such as Chen Danqing, He Duoling and Wang Chuan, all liked to focus on the lives of common people and on humanity and truth. Artists used common people, such as the educated youth during the "cultural revolution," to speak for themselves.

By portraying the real lives of miserable people, artists wanted to express their feelings of being fooled by the so-called then "great, heroic, thriving and powerful" Chinese society of that special period.

Since the new art wave of 1985, artists have no longer acted as a mouthpiece for society. Artists, especially those from southwestern China, mainly express the pathos of life in their works. Such artists include Zhang Xiaogang, Mao Xuhui, Zhang Peili and Geng Jianyi.

After 1989, many artists paid more attention to themselves and the people around them, with their works displaying trivial things in life and showing the boredom of unimportant people.

The 798 Biennale also shows the rising position of the art zone in the contemporary art world in China.

The 798 arts district, initially based on the Bauhaus buildings of Factory 798, has experienced a period of rapid development over the past three years.

In this short time it has established itself as a prominent space for showing domestic and international Chinese contemporary art, and serves as an example of what the latest contemporary Chinese culture and lifestyles have to offer.

As more and more art organizations make their homes in Dashanzi area, the district has become increasingly vibrant, bringing in a wide range of art and activities.

Since 2002, the 798 arts district has organized a series of important contemporary art activities.

For more info, please call 6436-2331 ext 5327.

(China Daily 09/22/2005 page18)


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