We spent the morning in 798 district – larger, more established and more obviously a tourist destination than it was three years ago (and perhaps inevitably less interesting).   I’m finding it hard to make sense of the different strands of Chinese art practice.   There’s a traditional strand of beaux arts practice brought in by the French in the 1940s and represented by the amazing rotunda of casts in the Academy, and which was added to recently from Copenhagen (hard to imagine us adding to our collection of casts).   It seems that students are still encouraged to – or possibly required to – draw from the antique following the conventions of traditional academic practice, now abandoned in the west.   There’s traditional Chinese ink painting, still practised traditionally, but also being reinvented, as evident in a recent exhibition Ink Art in Contemporary China at the Met.   There’s contemporary abstract art.   And there’s art in a more international, experimental manner as represented in private collections.   But it’s very hard to work out how they interact, if at all, except all strands seem to be represented at the Academy.


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