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798: Art & enterprise

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CNTV, November 16, 2011
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From a small group of artists a decade ago, the 798 art zone has gradually become a large exhibition area displaying China’s modern art. Next we take a look at how the art zone keeps its core vitality, originality and quality of art, even as much of it is goes global and becomes increasingly commercialized.

The first art studio set up by sculptor Sui Jianguo in 2000, started the ball rolling for the factory space number 798 to be turned into an art community. Soon, dozens of artists lived there.

These days, 798 is an internationally famous art district, home to 400 institutions including more than 200 art galleries, with the rest being companies, restaurants and clubs. It hosts more than 2,000 art shows a year that attract 2 to 3 million visitors.

With art studios gradually giving way to more and more galleries, some are mourning the loss of the primitive, enclosed atmosphere. But administrator Zhang Guohua says the original spirit of 798 still remains.

Zhang Guohua said, "The artists don’t go far away. Although most have moved their studios to nearby areas like Cao Chang Di and Da Huan, their exhibiting areas are still here. They come here quite often; they’re still very active in exhibitions, and activities held in the zone."

Cheng Xindong is one of the earliest art dealers to set up a gallery in 798. Now he has three galleries here. Cheng Xindong Art Gallery hosts a new exhibition every two months, and has promoted many artists from obscurity to well-known. He believes a more open 798 draws more people to modern art.

Cheng Xindong said, "Art should not only be appreciated by an elite group. It can belong to the masses. In modern time, art should be connected with the society, and then it can generate more value when it meets a wider audience."

Gallery owners know that to stay in the trade, their art must be both original and of good quality. Now the best crop of modern art from across the world is being exhibited in 798. See, 45 of the galleries are run by foreign owners from 25 countries and regions.

This old factory has become the perfect place for a burgeoning art community, and the art community has further exploited it and renting it out not only as art studios, but also galleries, clubs and fashion venues. And striking a balance between protectionism and innovation enterprise has become a ultimate goal for this art community.

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