THE SONG ZHUANG ARTIST COMMUNITY
Song Zhuang is the art colony where the Frida Kahlo artists live and work.
Located one hour east of Beijing, it is the most famous and biggest artist community in China. More than 4000 artists live there.
Originally representing the avant-garde, the area now accommodates artists who paint in varying styles, ranging from the avant-garde to the academic. Sculptors, photographers, art critics, film directors also call the area home.
The “Song Zhuang spirit” truly exists; it is the spirit of idealistic Chinese artists. The roots of this artistic community can be traced back to the grounds of the Old Summer Palace in the north-east of Beijing.
It was there that in the 1980s, like-minded free spirits congregated, living relatively poorly, though freely, escaping from the rat race and pressures of modern society.
Artists arrived from all over China, celebrating a creative community and period of intense artistic exploration. This fertile artistic ground produced artists later to find international recognition and fame, most notably Fang Lijun, Yue Minjun and Yang Shaobin.
In an effort to preserve the spirit of the avant-garde, Fang Lijun, Zhang Huiping and Yue Minjun took the bold initiative in the spring of 1994 to relocate to the farming area of Song Zhuang Township. Liu Wei, Zhang Huiping, Wang Qiang and Gao Huijun were also in this first wave of artists to move.
By the end of the year a quite formidable group of talent had succeeded in keeping the flame burning for Chinese avant-garde art.
Here, the old-style farmhouses, many with small front courtyards or gardens, proved an ideal living and working space for the artists, more of whom would subsequently arrive following the official closure of the Old Summer Palace community in 1995.
The communal artistic lifestyle and essence of the avant garde was preserved and remained intact by transplantation to Song Zhuang.
About present day Song Zhuang, native artist Cheng Da Qing said, “The future of Chinese fine art is in Song Zhuang.” The artistic community now has over 4000 artists, 10 museums and over 80 art galleries, centered mainly in the village of Xiaopu.
Painters, sculptors, photographers, writers, conceptual/new media artists and dreamers live side-by-side in the largest gathering of contemporary artists certainly in China if not in the world.