Research Log | The Art Scene in Guangzhou is Hot!

The art scene in Guangzhou has attracted a great deal of attention from both the national and international art world since the landmark Guangzhou Triennial in 2002. This has also been strengthened by the more frequent exposure of the work of artists from Guangzhou on the international art stage largely thanks to Hou Hanru’s curatorial projects, in particularly last year’s Venice Biennale. The Guangdong Art Museum, under the directorship of Wang Huangsheng, is preparing its second ambitious triennial for 2005, of which Hou Hanru will lead the curatorial direction. Wang Huangsheng informed me that the upcoming Triennial will adopt a new strategy, encouraging artists and curators to organise satellite shows cross the city, thus turning Guangzhou into a large exhibition venue.

Guangdong Art Museum is also preparing the opening of its first branch in Guangzhou which will be housed in a luxurious real estate compound. The first branch of the Guangzhou museum, the Royal Villas Museum, will be unveiled on April 28, 2004. Exhibition programs include Picasso’s Printing Works, and a two-man-show of sculptures by Tang Daxi and Tang Songwu. Wang also mentioned the possibility of additional branches in the coming years, as several similar collaboration projects were under negotiation.

Currently on view at Guangdong Art Museum is a large-scale group show entitled The First Art Exhibition of Guangdong’s Young Generation. The show includes 160 installation, painting, video, sculpture, and photography works by 130 young Guangdong based artists and occupies six galleries, the main corridor and lobby. For many of the participating artists, this is the first time their work has been exhibited in a museum. Sun Xiaofeng, the guest curator and one of the participating artists told me that the project took him and museum staff six months to prepare and that it will be an annual event, aimed at promoting emerging artists. “So many young artists submitted their works once we announced the show to the media, and due to space limitations we had to be highly selective.”

Artists not accepted in the show, organized a project and opening gala at a newly founded artist compound, Park 19. Situated right behind the Guangdong Art Academy, Park 19 comprises thirty studios, a bar and exhibition space, much like the cattle depot of Hong Kong. Cheng Ke, one of the resident artists, told me that many veteran artists who have earned a lot of money through business ventures or commercial art over the last two decades are returning to the ‘pure’ art world, by renting a space here and associating themselves with younger artist groups. The exhibition of over 30 artists opened in the gallery space on May 23rd, and included artists such as Ru Yao, Yuan Xiaoming, Chen Wenbi, Zheng Ying, You Qi, Li Lulu, Lin Yuyan, Xiao Ji, Wang Yi, to name a few. Works included performance, video projection, music, installation, and photography. About 300 visitors attended the event, and viewers enjoyed numerous performances, such as Cheng Wenbi’s Planting, which involved transplanting a live green tree into a plastic container which was then filled with wet cement.

Wang Huangsheng‘s appearance at the event indicated his support of their activities and indicates that he will be looking to take this artistic energy into the museum. A combination of Hou Hanru’s promotion of artists from Guangzhou on an international art stage, Wang Huangsheng’s direction of the museum, and the gradual development of an art infrastructure due to a freer political climate and developed market economy, has resulted in Guangzhou becoming a city that should not be overlooked when considering contemporary art in China.

Guangdong Museum of Art:

Catalogues and more information can be found at the Asia Art Archive



ZHANG Zhaohui, 張朝暉

Thu, 1 Apr 2004

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