One of a handful of signs emerging this year of the increasing value placed on contemporary arts in southwest China, the Chengdu Museum of Contemporary Art counts among its investors the Chengdu Hi-Tech Investment Group and the Chengdu Tianfu Software Park.
Which already sets it apart from the small, privately run galleries that have been cropping up around Chengdu over the past several years.
Opened July 1 in the Tianfu Software Park, the 7,500 sqm grounds include 2,000 sqm of exhibition space spread out over two floors. Attached to the building are conference and meeting rooms, a small bookstore, and the See & Seen Coffee shop, which sells tea and coffee drinks as well as a small selection of pasta, soups, and salads (drinks, RMB12 to 25; food, RMB5 to 20).
Visitors to MOCA who come by subway are first greeted by a not-particularly-short walk down the under-trafficked sidewalks of the Century City area. Several crossings of wide, automobile-filled boulevards and one Subway sandwich shop later, visitors arrive at the golden arches of the promised land—towering in all their glory over the drive-through McDonalds that completes the startling knockoff of American suburban life. Across the street from this spectacle sits the comparatively dignified MOCA.
Of lesser interest than the building and surroundings is the debut exhibit, "Collecting History—China New Art," which spans media from photography to painting, sculpture to installation. The several dozen pieces, on display both indoors and out, represent a seemingly arbitrary selection of works from contemporary Chinese artists, most notably perhaps He Duoling (何多苓) whose 2011 oil painting "Playing on the Trees" (树上玩) sits quietly in a corner of the gallery. Grander in stature if not appeal are the sculptures, such as Xiang Jing's (向京) Infinite Pola 6 (无限柱(六件之二)) and Gu Wenda's (谷文达) large block prints of Tang Dynasty poetry, rendered in both Chinese and English.
"Collecting History—China New Art" runs through August 31.
Subway line 1, Century City station, walk toward the Tianfu Software Park Bldg. C1 or take bus 501, 504, or 4a.
This article was first published in CHENGDOO citylife Magazine, issue 46 ("holiday").