How Shenzhen Became a Chinese Artist Enclave

qiujunqian   |   October 7, 2021

ARTINFO has an article named How Shenzhen Became a Chinese Artist Enclave by Sylvia Bai.

SHENZHEN, China—Exactly 30 years ago, the city of Shenzhen in southern China was designated as a Special Economic Zone and began its journey from a fishing hamlet to a modern commercial powerhouse. Official celebrations of this anniversary last week focused on the role of Deng Xiaoping, China’s former leader and the architect of the economic reforms that marked the end of the Mao era. A special art prize aimed at finding the best depiction of Shenzhen’s development story was one “highlight” of the week, and it was no surprise to find portraits of Deng featured heavily among the finalists. But while the art of propaganda was very much on display, there were also art events that reflected a quieter revolution that has taken place in Shenzhen over recent years. The city authorities have worked hard to place Shenzhen on China’s art map, and their efforts are paying off in the form of regular high-profile exhibitions and a booming local art scene that feeds off — and plays up to — Shenzhen’s unabashed commercial spirit. ARTINFO China’s Sylvia Bai calls Shenzhen home and sent us the following report:
I grew up in Shenzhen, but I am always still astonished by this city’s innovative spirit. Thirty years ago, Shenzhen was a sleepy fishing village, but because it was designated as one of the first experimental Special Economic Zones, people from all over the country came and turned it into a place where dreams are made. While economic development imbued the city with a special local spirit, it’s only recently that I’ve been able to associate the place with “culture.” In fact, I used to think of it more as a “cultural desert.”

Photo by Sylvia Bai