Beijing's Dashanzi Art District is only four years old, but it is known the world over. The transformation of this state-owned industrial area into the heart of China's booming art market began when Beijing Tokyo Art Projects (B.T.A.P.) established itself there first in October 2002.
Having closely followed the development of Chinese contemporary art since the late 1980s, Yukihito Tabata set up the gallery with the intention of bringing artists from China, Japan and Korea together and introducing them to a wider audience. B.T.A.P.'s establishment came at the moment that Chinese contemporary art became the zeitgeist of the East Asian art scene and was the impetus for dozens of galleries from around the world moving into the Dashanzi area in the years since.
The impressive exhibition space is flooded with natural light that comes in through the large, arched skylights of this 400 metre-square, former munitions factory: the defining architectural signature of this East German-built Bauhaus-style building. The walls are white but still rough and just underneath the skylights, a communist slogan that urges the workers to feel Chairman Mao's spirit as the red sun in their hearts still remains painted on the wall. Recently, MAD architectural studio made a sleek redesign of the gallery's entrance hall that not only tripled the office space but added more exhibition space in the form of a mezzanine floor.
B.T.A.P. has held a consistently exciting and experimental program of exhibitions that showcase the work of both established and up-and-coming artists working in all media. Techno-Orientalism brought together some of Asia's finest new media artists to present works that investigate the balance between advanced technology and popularized notions of traditional Asian aesthetic sensibilities. Movement, Feeling, Environment was a solo show of work by Nobuo Sekine, one of the key figures in the pivotal Japanese postwar art group Mono-ha and the exhibition was the first of its kind to introduce Sekine's work to a Chinese audience. In his solo exhibition Waste Not, Song Dong explored his relationship with his mother and the meaning of family heirlooms against the backdrop of China's increasingly materialistic, capitalist society.
As Chinese society continues to change at such a rapid pace, so too does its artistic expression. Set in a unique location that juxtaposes the legacy of the past with the vigour of the present, B.T.A.P. continues to be the ideal venue to keep up with those changes.