Arty house (so very French)

Out in the far flung South-Westerly suburbs of Beijing, Songzhuang is an unofficial artists village. ‘Suburb’ is a misleading term: just an hour’s drive from highrise Guomao, it looks more like the countryside. Lining its dusty streets are eerily accurate reproductions of Renaissance masterworks, side by side with exciting new works by Chinese contemporary artists (with lamb kebab grills filling in the gaps). And even further flung in this ‘village’ lives a French artist, who first came to China in 1988 and has been living in this artists’ community for over ten years. She has a very cool house, every available wall space filled with paintings and sculptures by herself or her friends (it was one of these friends who invited me along for a look).

If I’m back for a closer look at the area, I will write more. It strikes me as more ‘real’ than 798. For the moment, here are some snaps of the French artist’s home (she asks to be anonymous):


  1. baijiu is the lifeblood of art. (a new chengyu?)

  2. When I went to Songzhuang two years ago (yes yes, back then, you know…), the absence of a subway station meant that it took two hours to traverse Beijing from the Northwest to the South.
    It was summer then, the sky was upliftingly blue but the heat depressingly heavy. No one was in the main street outside the settlement itself. So after some trudging around, I sought shade, water and a green-bean-popsicle in the supermarket. Of the five isles, two were dedicated to all varieties of baijiu. There were small plastic packs, big plastic packs, round plastic bottles, fancy glass bottles, even fancier paper-packaged ones, dull canisters, brown kegs but no barrel.

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