A cursory glance at Chongqing yields nothing but the monotony of slick glassy facades alternating with aging grey concrete. On the surface, Chongqing exemplifies the daily grind of modern life – not readily associated with anything artistic. But art certainly can be found by those willing to delve beneath the ubiquity of modern Chongqing life. Breathe in the Chongqing arts scene in the heady days of its infancy, before it evolves into a heavily curated form, a la Beijing or Shanghai. Chongqing art outcroppings include the Huangjueping Art District and the Huaren Museum of Contemporary Art. Beijing may have 798, but Chongqing’s Huangjueping Art District could someday become an artistic force to be reckoned with.
Huangjueping District. Photo: flickr.com
1) Huangjueping Art District
Former home to the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, this art district is helmed by the must-see Huangjueping Graffiti Street (黄桷坪涂鸦街). Some 800 students, painters and workers were commissioned to set this street awash with color over a period of 150 days. Another mind-boggling statistic is the 12,500 kg of paint expended to achieve this impressive feat. The resulting 1.25 km of psychedelia begins at the Huangjueping Railway Hospital.
Set in a residential district, noodle stalls and car supply shops alternate with art supply stores and bookshops here. Observe artists laboring in galleries and studios, some home to international artists. Or give your eyes (and feet) a rest in style in an artist café or bar, while eavesdropping on discussions on who will be the next Van Gough (or rather, Ai Weiwei).
The street culminates in stacks of smoke from a still-functional power plant. It has been said that the rationale was artists should engage in some form of mundane labor to keep them grounded in the Mao era. Art-wise, the street culminates at the 501 Art Repository (501艺术基地), formally a tobacco factory churning out ubiquities but now home to studios where original creations are worked by hand. Should you be in the right place at the right time, feast your other senses on one of the performing acts in its in-house theatre.
2) Sichuan Fine Arts Institute View In Map
One of the most established and largest art schools in China, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute moved from its home in the Huangjueping Art District to Shanpingba District in 2011. The Sichuan Fine Arts Institute dates back to the Kuomintang days in the 40s. Its claim to fame lies in churning out the largest number of Chinese art greats. The old campus in Huangjueping is home to two art museums and a glass-fronted gallery near the entrance. Muse over three floors of art pieces in the Chongqing Art Museum or venture further in to the Tank Loft Contemporary Art Centre – art in the unlikely home of former military storehouses beside a military tank after which the place is named. A beautiful campus with sculptures set amidst lush greenery.
Add: University Town Shapingba District, Chongqing
Tel: 023 8618 0888
Opening hours: all day
Getting there: Bus No. 277, 551, 565, 901 to Daxuecheng Meiyuan stop (大学城美院站)
3) Huaren Contemporary Art Museum View In Map
A relative newcomer to the arts scene, the privately-owned Huaren Contemporary Art Museum was built in 1995 as a showcase for the works of well-known contemporary artists in China. The sprawling 3,200 square feet interior houses a substantial collection of paintings, sculptures, photography and installation art. On Saturdays, enjoy free admission to the main gallery.
Add: 59 Hubindong Lu, Huixing Jie, Yubei District, Chongqing
Tel: 023 6745 1993
Opening hours: 9:00-16:00
Price: free on Saturdays
Getting there: Take bus No. 609, 619, 629, 688, 801, 880 to Zaishuiyifang ( 在水一方) stop
4) Jinse Gallery View In Map
A beautifully laid-out gallery in wealthy Yubei District, Jinse Gallery seems poised to capitalize on Chongqing’s growing upper-class. Its 1,000 square foot interior mainly houses contemporary Chinese art alongside foreign art pieces in several exhibition rooms. Established in 1998, it used to be located at Chaotianmen, facing the Yangtze River, but has since moved to its current location.
Add: 11 Xinnan Lu, 1-3 Renhetiandi 4, Yubei District, Chongqing
Tel: 023 6371 6993
Opening hours: 10:00-18:00
Getting there: 126, 149, 151, 166, 245, 288, 465, 809, 811, 842, 851, 859 or 886 to Xinpafang Xi stop (新牌坊西站)
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