The 798 Art Zone in Beijing wasn’t always this artsy. During the war times of decades past, this used to be a military factory district where weapons used to fight the Cold War were constructed.
Now, the complex has been re-purposed for constructions of a decidedly less lethal type- with cafes and galleries springing up to create a hip creative cluster that is perhaps the first of its kind in the Beijing art scene.
Beijing Tokyo Art Projects (東京画廊), or B.T.A.P., was one of the original pioneering galleries that established itself in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone. Since its inception in 2002, more galleries have appeared in the district and gradually, the 798 Zone rose as a top spot for art-lovers to gather and to admire art.
B.T.A.P. was started by Yukihito Tabata, with the intention to bring together artists from China, Tokyo and Korea to introduce them to a wider audience, at a time when Chinese contemporary art rose to prominence in the East Asian art scene. Plan a visit while in Beijing and check out the B.T.A.P. website for their upcoming exhibitions and list of artists.
The 798 district isn’t just about Asian art though; exploring the area will yield a diverse art scene with Western influences too. The Italian-founded Galleria Continua is one example.
With a mission to promote international contemporary art, Galleria Continua was one of the first non-Chinese galleries to establish itself in China in 2004. The gallery’s represented artists range from British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor to Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei to Kosovar Albanian contemporary artist Sislej Xhafa. For the full list of artists and exhibition shows, details are on Galleria Continua’s website.
As much as the 798 Art Zone is known for its art, its cafe scene is not to be disregarded either. With cafes being prime hang-out spots for the young and trendy all around the region, the various cafes along the streets of the 798 district add to its hip and vibrant charm.
At Cafe (爱持咖啡) is one of the cosy coffee joints around the 798 area, providing cafe fare and a nice chill-out spot for tired travellers. Bricks, greenery and cushions decorate the interior, and there are magazines at the shelf below the counter for browsing as well.
If you’re hungry, grab a bite at Timezone 8, a popular cafe and restaurant in the 798 zone that serves well-loved Japanese food. Sushi, anyone?
From the terrace to the brick interior and artwork-adorned walls, this establishment not only offers good food but plenty of Instagram-worthy backgrounds too, making it a great place to end your exploring with a delicious meal and a few photos in memory of your artsy travels.
P.S. Want to discover more artsy hipster districts? If the 798 zone is Beijing’s hipster hotspot, then Sheung Wan is Hong Kong’s. Read about it here: Explore Sheung Wan, HK’s Hipster Hang-out.
Visit travelog.me for more places to go when in Beijing!
Images courtesy of (from top to bottom): Davidmcb@devianart, Mask9, Tokyo Gallery, artaddict.net, slash-paris, visitbeijing, bendibao, tripadvisor, and lumdimsum.
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