Guangzhou is a fascinating place. The art scene is especially compelling because of Guangzhou’s ongoing interplay between Chinese and foreign influences. We see this interplay not only in the arts, but also in architecture, business relationships, and ways of thought. Here are a few places to start as you begin to explore Guangzhou’s art scenes.
Before we start….WeChat
Before we delve into how to connect with the local art scene, we’ve got to go over something really important about China. If you intend on living or spending a good chunk of time here, you must have a WeChat account. In China, WeChat is king. It is how how social groups form and coordinate, how you pay for everything from taxis to noodles, how you top up your phone, how you book your train tickets and rent bicycles. Most importantly, it is how nearly all communication happens, both between individuals and within groups. If you want to be social in China, even within the expat community, you must have WeChat.
Expat Arts Communities
If you’re interested in the expat art scene in Guangzhou, here’s who you can connect with to get started:
- Global Friendship, a community founded by our friends Fabiola and Rochelle. They host get togethers, workshops, concerts, and a lot more, all in the name of changing the world through art.
- The Salon, a really cool community formed by our friends Ariana and Rowley. The Salon is simply…the best. You’ll see. To connect in, get in touch with Ariana at WeChat: arilombardi
- DFG (Destined for Greatness), an musical/spoken word open mic run by our dear friend Leeza. To connect, ask around in the Salon and GF communities to see who is in DFG and have them add you to the DFG WeChat group.
- Yi-Gather, is a very cool co-working space/community. They host talks and gatherings in their somewhat-hidden space that has a very funky, urban, hip vibe.
Also, check out open mic nights and events at Rebel Rebel, Hooley’s, FeelMore Bagels, Summer Bar, and CA1. These are restaurants around town that often host events hosted by groups like Global Friendship and DFG.
Here’s how it works – the expat community in Guangzhou is relatively small and intertwined. So once you are in one WeChat group, it leads to another group, then another, and so on.
Lido Art Center & Artist Residency
Lido Art Center is near and dear to our hearts, as José helped found the organization. Lido has close ties with some of the most prestigious art schools in the USA, and the center hosts exhibitions, talks and workshops, an international artist residency program, and a portfolio development program for students seeking acceptance to top art schools around the world.
If you are a serious artist looking for an artist residency opportunity in China, contact Lido. If you are an art enthusiast and want to experience a taste of both modern Chinese art forms and the work of international artists, attend Lido’s workshops and exhibitions. The work being created by Chinese artists today is particularly fascinating, as the work must dance between artistic expression and political censorship.
Art23 Contemporary Art Gallery
Located in the beautiful Dongshankou district, Art23 is a great spot for contemporary art exhibitions from both Chinese and international artists. The gallery is very active, constantly hosting new artists, talks, and exhibitions. Make sure to get in on their WeChat group to get updates on everything coming up.