That morning over breakfast I was sitting at a table with some participants. “Are you going to come to the opening at the inside out museum in Haidian? We have a bus, it only holds 20 and will leave at 13:30.” Not waiting for an answer, the conversation no longer in any particular way included me and, drifted to blues clubs, millionaires and swanky deals, let my mind drift off to Jim, Basie and Frank from J.G Ballards ‘Empire of the sun’. A fancy-dress party and cocktails. We all had our agenda.
I would follow a part of the morning session of the symposium, the afternoon would be spent at the art district 798.
The symposium was opened by the chairman Shao Dazhen, followed by Wang Yong, Nui Kecheng and Zuo Zhongyi. Yu Yang, dean of art history, school of fine arts, Capital Normal university gave his view of Chinese painting in the recent 30 years, and looking at the position of the Chinese art in comparison to the west. Followed by comments on the potential growth of the Chinese art industry. (in Europe we talk about the creative industry, what is the art industry?)
This was followed by the critic Zhu Qi, who gave us an interesting talk about the oil paintings in China which comparing to ink and paper is a relative new technique. He showed us an exciting development of painters from the 1990 to 2006 ranging from traditional landscapes in oil, to a more naive narrative style of painting to a hyper realistic painting, using everyday subjects such as fat man on stretcher being annoyed by mosquitoes. The symposium ended at 17:00, but like I mentioned I had my own agenda. The day before I had already taken a look at the Rosebud gallery in district 798 and saw a gripping performance by the Beijing modern dance company with a giant paper marionette. The art district is filled with work and at 12:00 I started with Landscapes in nowhere by Ju Tae Seak, Looking away, in the Lelege Art space and so I went from one space to the next. The immense scale of the art exhibition spaces and the corresponding size upon which the works are made are greatly impressive, you could put a train in most of the exhibition halls. Once the awe of the grandness and the intimidation wears off you can still enjoy the confidently, well executed works, evoking a feeling of nostalgia. But what Mr Zhu Qi ( the art critic from the morning symposium) had shown us in his slide-show, that was not in the art district today. The image of the painting of a fat man lying on the stretcher being annoyed by mosquitoes was replaced by a skinnier man lying on a stretcher with no mosquitoes.
photo-collage by Li Dui, participant in 2009 Beijing 798 Art festival
That day I spoke and met up with
Weaam Ahmed El-Masry, Mohamed Ibrahim Elmasry, Abdel Mo’men Shams, Mohammad Bassuony, Kawther Al-sharif, Mina Nasr, Samar Elbarawy, Kate Vrijmoet, Xiaohong Zhang, Juan Andrés Hermosilla Hermosilla, Mauricio German Rivera Jimenez, Tara Behbahabi, Britta Westhausen, Linda Lildholdt, Said Aniff Hossanee, Emanuele Giannetti