For ten years now, the Faurschou Foundation Beijing
has been putting on exhibitions in our city, a milestone they’re marking with the ongoing Virtual Reality Art
. The institution has had an interesting history, having borne witness to massive changes in the ever-exciting art scenes in Beijing and around the country, and hosting some of the world’s best contemporary artists, from Robert Rauschenberg to Yoko Ono to Ai Weiwei to Louise Bourgeois. To celebrate their first decade, we spoke with founder Jens Faurschou about the past, present and future of both the Beijing art scene and of this unique institution.
Can you explain the motivation for the move into Beijing back in 2007?
We had grown out of our space in Copenhagen and were looking for an international exhibition space. Our first thought was to open in New York or Berlin, but there we would be just another gallery. At that time, Beijing was suddenly at the centre of attention, and after a visit in 2006, there was no doubt that we would open there. It was clear that we could make a difference and introduce the best Western art to a Chinese audience, which we did with our inaugural exhibition of Robert Rauschenberg in 2007.
What are some of the key changes that you have seen in Beijing’s art scene and in 798?
As the years passed 798 evolved into the most important location in the Beijing art scene. Big galleries
have opened spaces there, showing some of the finest Western and Chinese art. It was an area that made a difference, though unfortunately, I am noticing less activity and vibrancy in recent years.
You still regularly make the journey to the capital for openings at your space, so more generally, how have you seen Beijing as a city change?
Beijing is obviously becoming bigger and busier and seemingly more Western- orientated. And the increasing smog worries me.
Who were the first Chinese artists that you worked with?
Ai Weiwei, Liu Wei and Liu Xiaodong were among the first Chinese artists that I worked with and collected. I still have a great relationship and collaborate closely with them today. There are a lot of great artists in China who I admire and who I hope to work with in the future.
Is there an overriding theme or pattern of artists exhibited at your Beijing space?
I am generally very picky when it comes to each work in the exhibition – each work has to be of the highest quality. I am very work-orientated. Sometimes less is more.
How has the fact that the space is in 798 influenced the exhibitions held there?
Our space in 798 provides us with the flexibility to design the walls around each exhibition individually so that the audience can experience the most beneficial architectural environment for each show. Furthermore, I find that the space itself and its amazing daylight have influenced and inspired us and the artists that we have worked with.
How do you envisage the future of the Faurschou in China, specifically in Beijing, and how do you think the Chinese art world will develop from here?
We will continue to create exhibitions of the highest quality from both Chinese and Western artists, as well as artists from other parts of the world. I think that the Chinese art world will continue developing in many different respects and I am sure that artists will continue coming up with great works, despite the depression they feel about some current situations.
Finally, we understand that a big motivation for opening a space in Beijing was to help change and benefit the Chinese and Beijing art scenes. Do you feel that you have been successful?
We have a history of excellent exhibitions. We have brought Rauschenberg back to Beijing and have introduced Louise Bourgeois, Gabriel Orozko, Shirin Neshat, Yoko Ono and Peter Doig. Based on the feedback we get from Chinese audiences, I feel that our exhibitions have brought a difference by inspiring and challenging both the artists and the audience. With our current Virtual Reality Art exhibition, we again intend to push those boundaries even further.
By Tom Mouna