The Critic’s Choice: China and Taiwan
Join Fairfax Media art critic and author John McDonald for an exploration of Chinese contemporary art in Taipei and Beijing, followed by an optional post-tour to the Hong Kong Art Week.
In the cities of Taipei and Beijing, explore two of the major centres of Chinese artistic culture, whose different political paths in the latter 20th century have each spawned distinctive contemporary art scenes from their common heritage. Immerse yourself in the dynamic artistic culture of these vibrant cities with privileged access to galleries and artists’ studios not open to the public.
Round out your experience with an optional tour to the Hong Kong Art Week, with VIP access to the region’s premier contemporary art shows including Art Central and Art Basel.
Depart Australia (SYD/MEL/BNE/ADL/PER) on Cathay Pacific flights for Taipei via Hong Kong, arriving in the late evening (flight included in tour price).
On arrival in Taipei, transfer to the hotel and check in.
Enjoy breakfast and the morning at leisure before a welcome briefing by John. After lunch, delve into the city itself with a tour of the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine, which houses the spirit tablets of those killed in the establishment and defence of the Republic of China; the Confucius Temple, originally constructed in the Qing era and then defiantly rebuilt after being destroyed by the Japanese during their dominion over Taiwan; and the impressive marble monument of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
Return to the hotel in the afternoon. The evening is at leisure.
In the morning, visit the National Palace Museum, whose vast collection of tens of thousands of artefacts covers the whole sweep of human history in China, from Neolithic farmers to modern Chinese art.
Spend an afternoon at leisure to continue your exploration of Taipei before dinner at a local restaurant, followed by an optional visit to the city’s bustling night market.
After breakfast, enjoy a talk by John on Taipei’s energetic contemporary art scene, and then spend the day exploring local artists’ work through John’s exclusive connections in the industry. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant before continuing your journey through the contemporary art scene of Taipei.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. This evening is at leisure.
Check out from the hotel after breakfast and transfer to the airport for an afternoon flight to Beijing (flight included in tour price).
On arrival in Beijing, transfer to the hotel and check in, before dinner at a local restaurant.
In the morning, visit the awe-inspiring Forbidden City Museum. Built between 1406 and 1420, the Forbidden City was the imperial seat of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and was latterly converted into a national museum.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Beijing, and in the afternoon visit Gulou and Zhonglu, the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower, two impressive structures that dominated the capital’s skyline for hundreds of years.
Afterwards, visit a local market hidden in the narrow laneways (hutong) that give old Beijing its distinctive character.
Visit Tian’anmen Square, the vast Qing-era national plaza on which the People’s Republic of China was declared and so much of China’s history has been played out. Explore the National Museum of China, which combines the collections of the erstwhile Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution.
After lunch, enjoy exclusive access to the galleries and studios of some of Beijing’s contemporary artists for a special insight from John into the fervent artistic culture of China’s capital.
In the morning, enjoy a talk by John on the contemporary art scene of Beijing before setting out for Beijing Today Art Museum and the Red Gate Gallery. Founded in 2002 by Zhang Baoquan, Beijing Today Art Museum aims to foster Chinese contemporary art through exhibiting established artists as well as supporting young and emerging artists. The Red Gate Gallery, China’s first private contemporary art gallery, was founded in 1991 by Australian Brian Wallace and is housed in the Ming Dynasty Southeast Corner Tower, part of the historic city wall. The gallery runs an active programme of visiting residencies, bringing together Chinese and international contemporary artists.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before continuing your exploration of the contemporary art scene with more exclusive visits to local artists’ galleries or studios.
Begin with a visit to the Temple of Heaven, constructed by the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and visited by successive emperors to invoke the blessing of Heaven for a bountiful harvest. Afterwards, there is the opportunity to visit Beijing’s famous Pearl Market in Hongqiao, whose sumptuous selection of jewellery is unrivalled in China.
Spend an afternoon at leisure, and in the evening, enjoy a performance at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (programme to be announced in early 2018).
In the morning, visit the Guanfu Museum, established in 1997 by legendary Chinese art collector Ma Weidu as one of the first private museums in China.
Travel to the dynamic 798 Art Zone, one of the capital’s most innovative art spaces. 798 Art Zone is housed in buildings which were once a set of joint Soviet-East German-Chinese military factories producing wireless electronics, and whose design displays an eclectic mix of several socialist architectural styles from the 1950s. In the 1990s, Chinese contemporary artists began to move into the disused factories and set up their studios, figuratively beating swords into paintbrushes.
This evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner with John and fellow travellers.
Check out of the hotel after breakfast.
For those continuing on to the Hong Kong Art Week, transfer to Beijing airport for an early afternoon flight to Hong Kong, arriving in the late afternoon.
For those returning home, transfer to Beijing Airport for Cathay Pacific flights to Australia via Hong Kong. Arrival next morning. (Flights included in tour price.)
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
12 January 2018
International Airfare payment due
15 November 2017 AUD 1,000
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
If not travelling on included flights, please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit Taiwan.
All foreigners require a visa to visit the People’s Republic of China. Renaissance Tours will assist you in your visa application.
Tour price includes
- Return international flights with Cathay Pacific in Economy Class ex-SYD/MEL/BNE/ADL/PER
- Economy Class flight from Taipei to Beijing
- Accommodation in centrally located hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Visa for People’s Republic of China
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- Talks with your tour leader, John McDonald
- Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure in Taipei and Beijing
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, minibar, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Taipei – The Riviera Hotel ****+
Beijing – Regent Beijing *****
NB: Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Hong Kong Art Week 2018
with James Cao
25–29 March 2018 (5 days)
Featuring Art Basel and Art Central, as well as a host of other art events, Hong Kong Art Week has become Asia’s unmissable contemporary art fair.
Enjoy VIP access to both Art Basel and Art Central, and get to know some of the exciting private galleries that have grown up around Hong Kong. Visit the recently-opened M+ Pavilion, a stunning edifice which has accelerated the development of the dynamic West Kowloon Cultural District.
Note: this tour is designed as an optional extension to The Critic’s Choice – China and Taiwan tour (AS1801), but may also be booked separately.
AT A GLANCE:
- Enjoy VIP access to Art Basel and Art Central, two of the linchpins in Hong Kong’s growing reputation as one of the contemporary art capitals of Asia
- Visit Hong Kong’s spectacular new M+ Pavilion, featuring rolling exhibitions of local and international contemporary art
- Discover private galleries nestled in the heart of Hong Kong’s bustling Central District
Sun 25 March 2018 / Arrive Hong Kong
For those arriving from The Critic’s Choice – China and Taiwan tour, arrive in Hong Kong in the late afternoon and transfer to the hotel in Kowloon.
For those arriving in Hong Kong from Australia or New Zealand today, make your way to the hotel in Kowloon. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.
In the evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Mon 26 Mar / Hong Kong
Enjoy a morning and lunch at leisure. In the afternoon, take the ferry to Art Central on the harbourfront for a special VIP preview of the fair. With more than 100 galleries exhibiting and 75% of its artists hailing from the Asia-Pacific region, since its foundation in 2015 Art Central has rapidly become a fixture on the Hong Kong artistic calendar and a standout in the region.
The evening is at leisure.
Tue 27 Mar / Hong Kong
In the morning, explore the collection of private galleries housed in the beautiful Beaux-Arts building at 12 Pedder Street.
After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is at leisure to continue exploring the antique shops, private collections and galleries of Hollywood Road – or to return to Art Central for a second visit.
Wed 28 Mar / Hong Kong
Visit the M+ Pavilion in Kowloon. Completed in 2016, the spectacular, mirror-glass building of the M+ Pavilion displays rolling exhibitions of contemporary art, from major thematic shows to the works of local Hong Kong artists.
Take the ferry to Art Basel, Hong Kong’s heavyweight of contemporary art, for a special VIP preview of the exhibition. Founded in 2007 as the Hong Kong International Art Fair, Art Basel is credited with transforming Hong Kong into a major world centre for contemporary art, and the fair attracts more than 3,000 participating artists each year.
In the evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner with James and fellow travellers.
Thu 29 Mar / Depart Hong Kong
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and transfer to Hong Kong airport.