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Arts in China Special (1) - State of the Arts (14 Aug 2007)


The Chinese contemporary art boom is unstoppable. The most fashionable of the new works attract the attention of international curators and buyers, and frequently break auction sales records. 15 years ago, an RTHK team spoke to members of the first community of free artists in Beijing to have broken away from salaried state jobs. Today, we return to see how things have changed. The story of the 798 Factory Complex mirrors that of many creative districts, such as New York's Soho. Initially, it attracted artists because rents were low and there was plenty of space. Today it's a hip hang-out with galleries, designer studios, coffee shops and retail stores. Rents have gone up, and some artists have moved out, but the former factory space remains an icon of the contemporary Chinese art scene, and its charm continues to attract many. Of those artists who've moved out, many have gone to the tranquil creative community of Songzhuang ( 宋庄 ), which we also visit. Some of that first group of once-struggling free artists have now become auction darlings whose works fetch millions. Among those we talk to are one of China ’ s most successful artists, Yue Minjun ( 岳敏君 ); curator/ art critic Li Xianting ( 栗?庭 ), who many consider the godfather of contemporary Chinese art; and the noted Zhang Xiaogang ( 張曉剛 ). Zhang often makes headlines for the price his works fetch, but the poignancy and subtle political undertones of his art are telling. His ghost-like figures have haunted expressions, haunted by the upheavals of events like the Cultural Revolution, and how they damaged and restricted human relationships.

The Works
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
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