In Search of Beauty: Finding Nanjing’s Top Art Galleries

In Search of Beauty: Finding Nanjing’s Top Art Galleries
By Harriet Petty ,

Having hosted its 1st International Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2010, it seems that Nanjing, the 'city of culture', is well on its way to becoming a major Chinese and international hub for visual art. The city is home to a number of galleries and museums, with new spaces and impromptu exhibitions regularly appearing and disappearing as the city moves towards its 2nd Biennial in October 2012. This guide will help you locate a few of the best spots in the city for viewing contemporary and traditional art practices.

1) Nanjing Art Museum 南京美 View In Map
A little difficult to find at first, the ominous façade of this substantial gallery looms over an alley of small dumpling shops and kerbside eateries, just off Changfu Jie. Halfway down Si Tiao Xiang (or Si Tiao Alley), the location seems an unusual choice for the constantly changing exhibition programme housed within its walls. Predominately hosting exhibitions rooted in the traditional Chinese styles of painting and calligraphy, this museum is also home to the "Nanjing Writer's and Artists Activity Centre". English language information is limited, as with many of Nanjing's galleries, but the professional curation, diverse range and fast changeover of high quality work makes this gallery a must-see.

Add: Nanjing Art Museum, 12 Si Tiao Xiang, Baixia District, Nanjing
地址:  南京市白下区四条巷12号南京美术馆
Tel: 025 8457 8599
Price: free
Opening hours: 09:00-11:30, 14:00-17:00

2) Nanjing Library 南京图书馆 View In Map
In addition to the various exhibitions put on in the library's large Exhibition Hall, the ground floor of the Nanjing Library is the home of new commercial art gallery Go Ahead Art Centre. Opening with an extensive exhibition of over 700 pieces in the Jiangsu Art Gallery opposite the library, the Go Ahead Art Center gallery boasts an impressive selection of work. (So much so, that in the current exhibition in Nanjing Library, works are stacked and assembled in every available space, from floor to ceiling.) The work in this first exhibition is predominately two-dimensional; painting, calligraphy, photography and prints, representing an array of established and up-and-coming artists. The next exhibition is set to display mostly the work of renowned Nanjing artists including professors at the Nanjing University of the Arts. For a glimpse of the developing student and professional arts scene in Nanjing and a chance to see both local and international pieces, head to Go Ahead Art Centre. Being a commercial gallery, this space also offers the opportunity to purchase original contemporary artwork… So long as you have the financial clout to afford work of this calibre.

Add: Nanjing Library, 189 Zhongshan East Road, Xuanwu District, Nanjing
地址: 南京市玄武区中山东路189号南京图书馆
Tel: 025 8453 6277
Opening hours: 09:00-17:30

3) Nanjing University of the Arts 南京艺术学院 View In Map
For another peek at the work of emerging artists and designers in Nanjing, head to the Nanjing University of the Arts. Installations, sculptures, wandering art students and professors clutter the campus, and the university hosts regular exhibitions of student work in the gallery space in the Design building. (From the South entrance on Beijing Xi Lu, the Design building is straight ahead and up the steps). As you might expect, the end of year Graduate Exhibition is the most extensive and varied show, which opens around the end of May each year.

Add: Nanjing University of the Arts, 74 Beijing Xi Lu, Gulou District, Nanjing.
地址: 南京市鼓楼区北京西路74号南京艺术学院
Tel: 025 8349 8210

4) Nanjing Qinghe Current Art Centre 南京青和当代美 View In Map
Situated in an old factory building in beautiful grounds, this contemporary art gallery boasts ample space for large-scale exhibitions including sculpture, installations and performance. The surrounding park is home to more than 40 working studios and the centre is keen to promote young artists, alongside more established practitioners. Since its opening in 2007 it has been the top spot for contemporary art in Nanjing; a fact that might be set to change with the completion and opening of the Sifang Art Museum (四方当代美术馆) in the West of Nanjing this month. A considerable distance from the city centre, you can reach the Nanjing Qinghe Current Art Centre by taking Metro line 1 North to the last stop (Maigaoqiao), then hail a taxi or bus no. 53 for the last stretch to the gallery. Alternatively, hop on bus no. 35 all the way from the city centre (Zhongshan Lu).

Add: Nanjing Qinghe Current Art Centre, 139 Mufu Dong Lu Yaoshangcun, Xiaguan District, Nanjing
地址: 南京市下关区幕府东路窑上村139号南京青和当代美术馆
Tel: 025 8555 9960

Add: Sifang Art Museum, 178 Pearl Street, Pearl Spring, Pukou District, Nanjing
地址: 南京浦口区珍珠泉珍珠街178号四方当代美术馆

Other possible options…

There are a number of other spaces to explore and enjoy in Nanjing, depending on your enthusiasm for art. For traditional style paintings, albeit with a touristy tinge, head to the many art shops in the area surrounding the Confucius Temple (Fuzi Miao). Similarly, a small outdoor arts market on Beijing Dong Lu, immediately behind the Southeast University campus is home to a number of Nanjing artists practising traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. For a collection of more than 10,000 works encompassing everything from ancient Chinese paintings and calligraphy to contemporary foreign artworks, head to the Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum. Or, for the practising artists out there, with a penchant for collaboration, seek out Peter Huang's Drug Art Museum, a semi-private venture that hosts a unique programme of events and exhibitions throughout the year.

Add: Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum, 333 Changjiang Road, Baixia District, Nanjing
地址: 南京白下区长江路333号 江苏省美术馆

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Keywords: art galleries in Nanjing where to view art in Nanjing contemporary and traditional art practices Nanjing art in Nanjing art exhibitions in Nanjing


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