The Financial Times really wants to understand Guangzhou. To do that, they feel they need to explain the local art scene to the rest of us:
In terms of contemporary art, the city has a vibrant and disparate scene made all the more exciting by the fact that it’s hard to find. Vitamin Creative Space, one of several Guangzhou art spaces that has sprung up over the past 10 years, is camouflaged by the kind of fruit, veg and suitcase market one can find anywhere in China.
Once inside, however, it’s obvious Guangzhou has had a contemporary art scene growing up through the rubble of the city for more than 20 years and, like the Vitamin space, it’s obscure, often unobserved, scrappy but very fresh.
According to an old Chinese joke, if an extra-terrestrial came to earth in Beijing, the locals would put him in a museum; in Shanghai, they’d make him turn tricks in a circus; in Guangzhou, they’d cook him and eat him. If you add Hong Kong to the mix, ET would be made to wear a shirt and tie and toil away in an office for 14 hours a day.
Ask anyone how China’s cities are different, and you’ll get a response broadly along these lines. “I would say that Beijing art is more political, in Shanghai it’s more commercial and in Guangzhou it’s more relaxed and playful,” says Huang He, a designer at the Vitamin space.
Guangzhou’s Revelations (Financial Times)