The changes in the ongoing second edition of Gallery Weekend Beijing reflect its organizers' support of the capital's home-grown galleries and a strong desire to engage with the ordinary audience among whom they are seeking the country's next-generation collectors and patrons of contemporary art.
Launched in 2017, the annual Gallery Weekend events provide experiences in addition to art fairs for galleries, dealers, artists and collectors.
Exhibitions are held at top galleries and art institutions in the city's 798 and Caochangdi art areas, so that all stake holders in the art market can have detailed conversations, which is usually not the case at art fairs where decisions to buy or not need to be made quicker.
This year, Gallery Weekend Beijing has prolonged its duration to a full week that started on Friday. Besides exhibitions, a series of talks and workshops are being held at participating galleries. The extension in duration is to attract elites from the international art industry to visit the city before they head to Basel Hong Kong, a top art fair, which is set to open on Tuesday.
The first Gallery Weekend last year saw the attendance of top gallerists, artists, dealers and directors of world-class museums from New York and London, among other places.
Wang Yifei, the director of Gallery Weekend Beijing, tells China Daily that they hope to show to these influential figures the creativity of Chinese artists and domestic art institutions.
Gallery Weekend Beijing this year has been brought together not only international galleries' spaces in Beijing, including Pace Beijing and Galerie Urs Meile, which have been operating in the city for many years and participated in the first edition, but also local galleries, such as Ginkgo Space and Triumph Gallery, which reflects a continuous development of home-grown art patrons.
Tang Xin, the director of Taikang Space who has participated since the first edition, says Beijing still boasts rich art resources, although it has felt over the recent years the pressure from Shanghai, a rising star in the art market, and other places such as Guangdong and Hubei provinces.
She adds that though Beijing is home to the bulk of contemporary artists in China, and it is one of the world's most populated places for art institutions, she feels that the city needs more vibrant activities like the Gallery Weekend to boost its art landscape.
Wang, the director of the events, says what the organizers wish for is to build a platform not only to export to the world the excellence of Chinese artists and art patrons but also to "prove that Beijing is an open and globalized center for international artists and galleries to hold exhibitions".
She further says the latest edition of Gallery Weekend Beijing is to bring collectors closer to "the roots" from which the contemporary art scene in China has sprouted.
According to her, while Chinese contemporary art has evolved over three decades, it is still rudimentary when compared to other countries. So, she says that it is likely that many Chinese collectors will be confused by what they have collected.
The main reason for the confusion, she says, is a lack of communication with the artists whose works they have bought, and with the galleries and curators who know these artists well.
"So, it is of great necessity to develop a growing number of serious collectors, who will maintain a long, stable relationship with artists, galleries and curators," says Wang.
Otherwise, collectors will lose the passion and soon resell their collections, something which is not good for the art industry.
"A prospect to gain added value should not be the only reason for one to buy art. There have been enough examples at home and abroad that as a collector becomes scholarly and discerning, he or she eyes better and more valuable artworks."
Another new section at this year's Gallery Weekend Beijing is the public art project in which several installations of prominent artists have been placed outdoors in the 798 art area.
Wang says it is to open the vision of art to ordinary visitors and to arouse their interest to enter a gallery.
"Art is always about triggering one's curiosity and overturn stereotypes. It is better that when people see these works, they have questions about the art and the artists, and that may be the start for someone to develop into a future patron of Chinese contemporary art."