Beili Wang

Beili Wang has been involved in the Chinese contemporary art scene for more than a decade and she is currently the Art Director of the Tang Contemporary Art Center in Beijing. Prior to that, she was an active promoter of Chinese contemporary art in France. During her time there, she assisted curator Henri Perier in the monumental exhibition 'Chine, le corps partout', at the Musee d’art contemporain de Marseille, France in 2004. The exhibition showcased the works of over 30 artists such as Ai Weiwei, Yue Minjun and Ma Liuming. Subsequently, she assisted artists such as Wang Guangyi, Liu Wei, Liu Xiaodon and He An to establish themselves in Paris, whose notably exhibited at Galerie Enrico Navarra, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Galerie Meaght and Galerie Daniel Templon. She has consulted Gallerie LOFT and worked with important French collectors including Sylvain and Dominique Levy, De Fleyrs and Jean Marc Decrop. Beili worked at the Centre Pompidou from 2006 - 2007 and at Shanghai Art Museum in 2006 for the Shanghai Biennale 'Hyper Design'.

Aug. 29, 2014

Art is important in my life, because… Art gives you many unusual perspectives through which to understand life. It makes you think more about the meaning of your existence.

An artist is a good artist, if he/she is… A good artist should be honest to himself and his creations. There are many different talents and ways of expression that are valid if the artist is sincere with himself and in his work.

Art goes best with… Passion, curiosity and an open mind

Three words that best describe art according to you... Honesty, creativity & independence

An art exhibition you have enjoyed recently... I recently visited the Zhen Dan Museum in Shanghai Pudong (Aurora Museum), it’s an amazing private collection devoted to Chinese antiquities. This beautiful collection is a pleasure to view thanks to the excellent work done in organizing the flow of the visit between the various themes ranging from pre-historic pottery to jade works or ceramics and Buddhist sculptures. This is one of the first private museums I have seen in China with documentation and descriptions worthy of the Metropolitan in New York and scenography and lighting that rival the Louvre in Paris. Also, the multimedia presentations really stand out by augmenting the visitor’s knowledge of the collection using dynamic and visually engaging presentations. As private collections and museums multiply in China I hope the directors and curators try to reach the quality of execution I enjoyed so much at Zhen Dan. 

Best city to go to for art... Beijing is the most interesting city today! Every city has had its moment. At the beginning of the 20th century it was Paris with impressionism, for the 1960-80’s it was New York with Andy Warhol and POP art. Today, the Beijing art scene is reflecting the emergence of a new Chinese contemporary culture. This globally significant cultural genesis in Beijing makes it as interesting and important today as Paris and New York were in their heydays.

Your favorite museum in the world... Centre Pompidou, it is the heart of contemporary art in Paris. I worked there between 2006-2007 putting together an exhibition showing the evolution of the artist studio during the 20th century. It was a lot of work researching in the archives and museum collection. This amazing experience taught me the functions and goals of a national museum in showing a nation’s cultural heritage and the evolution of ideological trends over time. More than any other experience, this is where I learned how important it is for a country to give value to art and culture through a museum collection.

An artist (dead or alive) you would like to have lunch with... Leonardo da Vinci, alive please.

There is a new generation of artists in China, who have moved away from figurative paintings, and exploring different approaches in creating works. Do you see a particular focus in a certain art language or theme in their works?

It is true that there are some broad emerging themes such as New Ink and Chinese Abstraction that have gained interest among the cultural cognoscenti worldwide.

However, I think the most interesting trend and indicator of maturation of the Chinese contemporary scene is the variety and quality of distinct voices and personal styles among Chinese artists today. Each generation has a few voices who stand the test of time and continue to deliver inspiring work through differing phases of their careers. These artists have relevance outside of their participation in the trend of the moment and will have long term following of museums and serious collectors, SunYuan & Pengyu, Jai Aili or MadeIn all come to mind as artists whose names evoke continued quality rather than following a trend.

I seek the same transcendent qualities in artists I am working with such as Wang Yuyang, Xu Qu and Yang Xinuang. They are simply good artists with very personal themes and voices, I think the flourishing of individualized work in Chinese contemporary art will be the future.

In your opinion, what is so special about contemporary Chinese art that differentiates it from the others?

China is hosting the creation of a broad contemporary culture in a very short time. Our perceptions of the future and our understanding of our identity are very closely reflected in our contemporary art with an urgency and immediacy that no other modern society has experienced.

In the Western art scene Impressionism, Marcel Duchamps, Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys all represent a successive development of art over a century. In China we had art created by a wealthy elite according to strict rules of form with its ink landscapes for thousands of years, then we had the political messaging of propaganda art for 40 years. Today, we are witnessing the explosion of individual expression in relation to the development of our modern society. Our artists have the freedom and courage to comment on the taboo and the questionable that we experience every day in our thriving society.

The interplay between art and society is occurring in lock step. As quickly as we can assimilate and understand it, it becomes part of our artistic legacy as we move on to engaging with the next societal trend. Never before have so many people experienced such a tectonic shift in culture in so little time and had it reflected artistically as relevant by such a large slice of humanity. This is truly unique.

The contemporary Chinese art world is growing incredibly fast and there are many young art students coming out of college, wanting to build a successful career as an artist. From your personal experiences, what is your advice for them?

For a young artist, I think the most important thing is to be honest in your reflection of the world. You must really believe in what you are doing. Many young artists are seduced by quick money and fame, but every young artist needs to be clear about his goals. For him to have longevity he needs to make good art first and worry about his career second? Success will follow excellence.

There are more young artist coming who will focus their artistic reflections into powerful creations, and it’s our job as art professionals to build a better environment for artists to thrive in while giving them the necessary exposure.

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