Beijing's Very Horror Themed Art District
In the eyes of many, Beijing is frequently seen merely as a city of a somehow long and impressive history. That is correct. With the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and a score of other historical sites it's undoubtedly one of the world's most ancient urban areas. Simultaneously, owing to the world's busiest subway system (still growing despite its 18 lines in total) and skyscrapers springing to life out of earth like flowers after a solid rain, it's also a true city of the 21st century in the fullest possible meaning of this term.
As China's booming middle class becomes ever more affluent, the passion for art is also on the rise. At the same time, the art is increasingly considered in terms of money allocation measure. Correspondingly, in 2014 the overall value of art auctions sales in China reached 10 billion USD, what represents an impressive increase in value, especially when compared with mere 800 mln USD in 2004.
One of the more recent spots on the cultural map of Beijing, the Today's Art Museum with various smaller, but by no means less splendid art exhibition venues scattered around it, is just an another example of the growing interest in arts, which marks the present day China. Somewhat less pretentious and commercialized than the city's sprawling 798 Art Gallery, the Today's Arts Museum is slowly awaiting its long due recognition.
Both the main gallery and neighboring sites focus on the modern visual arts, not limited to painting, but including diverse installations, furniture and statues. Modern art in China has always been linked to foreign influence, similarly, the gallery's surrounding area houses considerable expat community, partially due to its proximity to the financial centers of Guomao district.
Save for the paintings displayed in abundance, both the locales and outdoor areas are also richly endowed with sculptures and various statues, which feature broad references to the global mass culture. To say that most of them are distressing is to say nothing, as they are in their essence absolutely horrifying and imbued with deep sense of horror and despair.
All in all, most of the venues occasionally display artworks resembling scenes seemingly directly ripped from some really formidable horror, which is an intriguing and not so popular approach towards the modern art in Beijing. After witnessing such a dose of monstrosity you can only wish in the confinement of your heart, that what you had experienced is just another pure abstraction without any links to the reality. For illusion is indeed comforting.
The place is also undoubtedly a treat for the enthusiasts of street art graffiti and even anime parlor. Hopefully, the area devoted to them would get significantly increased in the course of the foreseeable future. And what serves as an untold advantage, you can not only enter most of the galleries absolutely for free, but the exhibitions are regularly updated, so it's advisable to drop by from time to time. Some of the venues are also conveniently furnished with small cafes, where if you are lucky enough, you can enjoy a conversation with the artists.
Thanks to its novel approach to the art and still comparatively low popularity, and resulting from that not too many crowds the place presents a thought - provoking alternative to other more firmly established art parlors of the city and is totally worth visiting, no strings attached.
How to get there?
The easiest way to get to the Today's Art Museum is by using subway, line 1 Guomao station (exit D). The arts district is close to Jianwai Soho and thus shouldn't be difficult to find.