798 art district, Beijing

High on the list of happy Western tourists visiting Beijing are the Forbidden City, the Lama Temple, The Great Wall and the 798 Art Zone. The area is a fairly new addition to the tour. 798 is located in Dashanzi, northeast of central Beijing.

0alesgars7.jpg0abeijinnn7.jpgA painting by Yue Minjun and a worker suffering from the heat

The gigantic space used to be a state-owned enterprise producing electronics. Built by the Russians in early 1959 as part of a WWII-reparations deal with Germany, the factory is pure Bauhaus style. Some of the warehouses are still occupied by workers, others by artists workshops and posh galleries.


In 2002, artists and cultural organizations began using the space for making and showing design, photography, publishing, exhibitions, performance and art. They rented space in the factory and converted individual workshops into independent studios.


I ended up taking much more pictures of the buildings and its surroundings than of the art works on show in the galleries. I have to agree with several people in Beijing: there’s a lot of bad art and many galleries seem to cater mostly for clueless tourists who want to buy any Chinese art just because it’s hip and cool right now.


But still, the place is a must see: Communist propaganda slogans, lovely graffiti, bookshops, tons of sculptures of Chairman Mao Zedong, paintings of Chairman Mao, drawings of Chairman Mao, and well, there was some good art here and there (Chairman-inspired or not.)

0ailikethatone.jpg0alatete8.jpgA work i loved but couldn’t find the name of the artist (anybody could help?) and sculptures by Liu Ruowang

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