Hong Kong Art Week, Beijing and Taipei
Please note that this tour was formerly titled ‘The Critic’s Choice: China and Taiwan’
The highlight of the Asian art calendar is Hong Kong Art Week, when two major fairs compete for the attention of the world’s art critics, collectors and curators.
Combining the international prestige of Art Basel HK and its edgier upstart rival Art Central, nobody knows Hong Kong Art Week like Fairfax Media art critic and author John McDonald.
Elsewhere on this unique tour, discover the booming contemporary art scenes of Beijing and Taipei, two of the major centres of Chinese artistic culture. Their 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.
Suggested departure from Australia on Qantas or Cathay Pacific flights to Beijing. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel, centrally located in the Wangfujing District, near Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
Join John for a welcome breakfast and talk on the fervent artistic culture of Beijing. Thanks to the international renown of established Chinese artists such as Ai Weiwei, Zhang Huan and Wu Yuren, Beijing has established itself as the epi-centre of China’s contemporary arts scene. Whilst the city’s contemporary art scene is largely centred around the Danshanzi 798 Art Zone, there are numerous hidden and out-of-the-way art spaces.
Mid-morning, set out for the 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 who has been involved in the city’s burgeoning art scene since his arrival as a student in the 1980s.
After lunch, visit the Guanfu Museum, established in 1997 by legendary Chinese art collector Ma Weidu as one of the first private museums in China.
Spend the day at the dynamic 798 Art Zone, a former industrial area inhabited by Bauhaus-style factory 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.
Today, 798 is home to most of Beijing’s leading contemporary art galleries including Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing Commune, Galleria Continua and Platform China. Spend the day exploring this extraordinary concentration of artistic activity and exhibitions, including meeting gallery owners and artists.
Today will be spent visiting new, smaller private galleries and artists’ studios scattered across the rest of the city and in the ever-changing ‘artist villages’ on the outskirts of the city such as Caochangdi, Songzhuang and Feijiacun. Expect the unexpected!
Tonight, you may like to attend a performance at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, designed by French architect Paul Andreu. Often referred to as ‘The Giant Egg’, the NCPA is home to China’s national opera, drama, Peking Opera, dance and classical music companies and all manner of international artists (not included in tour cost, performances announced 2-3 months prior).
Transfer to Beijing Airport for a midday flight to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. On arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in. Later, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, followed by a visit to the city’s bustling night market.
This morning, delve into the history and highlights of the city 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.
After lunch, begin your exploration of the city’s contemporary art scene with a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei (MOCA). Housed in a colonial red-brick building dating back to 1921, MOCA opened in May 2001 and is the first museum in Taiwan solely dedicated to contemporary art.
As a sign of the dynamic nature of Taiwan’s contemporary art scene, following the country’s move towards becoming the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, MOCA Taipei is currently making history with its newest exhibit, Spectrosynthesis (until November 2017) focused on the history and struggles faced by the continent’s LGBTQ community. The exhibition showcases 51 creations by 22 artists hailing from Taiwan, Singapore, China and Hong Kong, as well as Chinese-American artists based in North America.
Take a break from contemporary art this morning to 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.
This afternoon, enjoy some time at leisure to stay on at the National Palace Museum or further explore Taipei.
After breakfast, join John for a talk on Taipei’s energetic contemporary art scene, followed by a full day immersed in the smaller private galleries and artists’ studios of the city.
Begin with a morning exploring the Taipei Art District (TAD) comprising galleries and cultural spaces in Dazhi and Neihu. Depending on current exhibitions, you will visit art spaces such as Asia Art Centre, 1839 Contemporary Gallery, Aki Gallery, Tina Keng Gallery, and Eslite Gallery.
In the afternoon, one of the studios you will visit will be that of Kang Mu Xiang, often referred to as the primitive man of modern Taiwan, one of literally a few sculptors of his country who has managed to find a path onto the international stage.
Transfer to Taipei Airport for a midday flight to Hong Kong. On arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in. Later, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Enjoy a morning and lunch at leisure. In the afternoon, take the ferry to Art Central on the harbour front 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.
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 return to Art Central for a second visit.
Join John for a discussion on Hong Kong Art Week, followed by a visit to 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.
After a special farewell lunch, 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.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast. Our suggestion is to revisit Art Basel this morning and depart Hong Kong on an overnight flight back to Australia. Or, extend your stay in Hong Kong for further art, shopping, food and culture.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
12 January 2018
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Qantas or Cathay Pacific
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
- Accommodation in centrally located superior four-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Visa for People’s Republic of China
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure in Beijing and Taipei. Transfer on arrival only in Hong Kong.
- Comprehensive visits to public and private galleries, artist studios and Hong Kong Art Week VIP Previews (Art Central, Art Basel HK)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- Talks with your tour leader, John McDonald
- Transportation throughout on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Economy Class flights Beijing – Taipei – Hong Kong
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International flights Australia – China – Australia
- Transfers on departure from Hong Kong
- 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)
Beijing – Regent Beijing *****
Taipei – The Landis ****+
Hong Kong – Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Kowloon****+
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted
Optional Beijing Pre-tour
For first time visitors to Beijing
with James Cao | 14– 17 March 2018 (4 days)
Wednesday 14 March 2018 / Australia – Beijing
Suggested departure from Australia on Qantas or Cathay Pacific flights to Beijing. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel, centrally located in Wangfujing District, near Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
Thu 15 Mar / Beijing
Your exploration of Beijing begins at Tiananmen 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. Visit the National Museum of China, which combines the collections of the erstwhile Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution.
After a break for lunch, enjoy a visit to Beihai Park, one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens in Beijing.
Tonight, enjoy a taste of Beijing, with dinner at a local restaurant.
Fri 16 Mar / Beijing
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.
Sat 17 Mar / Beijing
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.
Time at leisure to further explore Beijing’s abundance of shopping, cultural and historical attractions. Tonight, you may like to attend a performance at the National Centre for the Performing Arts.