Dalian art world taking us by surprise
(Written by Ella)
Last Friday and Saturday were a total surprise, we managed to fit 2 museum openings as part of The Watercolour Season in Dalian and 3 gallery visits in 2 days. The first was the opening of the Australian Watercolour exhibition in Dalian Art Museum where we met (and made) new friends, both from China and Australia. It was nice to visit the museum we have heard so much about, located in a beautiful old building nearby the ‘Russian’ part of Dalian, and to see the works of the Australian artists in real life.
That same evening Marlies and I were invited to a private launch party of the Foreign Artists in Dalian Exhibition with works by photographer Matteo Bellemo from Italy, photographer Dan Jones from Wales (and director of the bimonthly magazine Focus on Dalian), illustrator Richard Hughes from England and painter Sofya Shafto from Russia. The exhibition was held in an old factory building and it was buzzing with a crowd with people from all over the world. There were bands and musicians playing, accompanied with beautiful performances by belly dancers. In the same building there are also studio spaces and a photography gallery, which we will visit soon. This event gave us a chance to meet many interesting people who showed us yet another layer of the Dalian art world. This time it was in the shape of an inspiring collaboration between local and foreign artists and organizers.
The next day started off with an incredibly crowded opening of the Sixth Watercolour & Pastel exhibition in Zhongshan Art Museum. As soon as we walked down from our studio, the whole terrain was covered with cars and touring busses. Inside, there were so many people, you almost couldn’t see the artworks. People from all ages, a lot of prominent figures from the art world and lots of students attended the opening. Marlies and I were given an honorable seat and were introduced during the opening ceremony. A great and strange feeling bowing to a crowd of more than a thousand people! The artworks in the exhibition covered many different subjects and techniques, all intriguing in their own way. We are definitely going back this week to look at the hundreds of works in peace.
After the opening Tom took us on an adventure through the city, starting off at the nearby gallery and coffee place Junmei Art Commune, where they also held an exhibition celebrating watercolour works. This gallery is also a great meeting place for artists and guests. The second was on the other side of Dalian: a contemporary art gallery called X Gallery, which just opened 2 months ago. We were lucky that the founder Xu Hongbo was there so I could do a little interview. His ambition is to introduce rising artists from Beijing in Dalian, showcase and sell their works and do the same in other young cities. Around 80% of the artists come from the famous Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing. X gallery organizes various events like tea ceremonies, music nights and salons and is definitely a great new addition to the young art scene in Dalian. After this Tom showed us his new studio and some of his works, which showed a great artistic development through time during his many travels to foreign countries. There we met his friend ROC who is an amazing (sur)realist painter. He generously gave me a signed copy of his book. The final surprise of the day was visiting Tom’s neighbors, a group of friends who have turned their space into a Japanese / Chinese oasis of serenity. This has got to be one of the most amazing and relaxing spaces I have ever seen. One of the owners invited us for tea. He made several different kinds of tea. The most special tea we tried was kept in a dried mandarin, which tasted delicious because the oils of the mandarin skin were infused with the taste of the tealeaves.
I am so grateful and inspired by all these new experiences and can’t wait to see what this week has in store for us!