Impressions of China: The Arts

In order to have a visitor’s visa request accepted, I was asked to lie about being a writer, otherwise I wouldn’t be granted access into China. So I was left with the impression that artists weren’t allowed to express themselves, that they were scared into silence and never revealed what’s inside them.

I’m used to going to the art galleries sparsely spread across Montreal and the suburbs – so imagine my surprise when I arrived at the 798 district, as big as a small town, where streets upon streets welcome art lovers into galleries and little boutiques. I *almost* want to live in one of those industrial quarters where Art lives and breathes.

You can find sculptures at the end of a street, next to a parking lot, hiding ugly highways. Some also tower over you, reminding you that there’s always someone watching over your shoulder, whether you think you’re free or not.

There are monsters bouncing and others waiting to have their pictures taken – because a big part of the culture is this easiness to remain young at heart, laugh like children and enjoy the cute and silly, like this guy.

As I walked the 798 district, I wondered if Art changed the views of the people, if years of communism had been forgotten with their ‘end’, if artists found ways other than the written word to express their oppression and anger. I guess I found it, whether you see this fist as smashing down on people or you imagine it to represent freedom, rising up in the air.


As beautiful as the 798 district was, I wanted to see landmarks, those I’ve read about in books for years and never imagined seeing up close and personal. Until next week, my friends.

About Anne Michaud

Author of Dark Tendency View all posts by Anne Michaud

6 responses to “Impressions of China: The Arts

  • Krista Walsh (@krista_walsh)

    Beautiful pictures. I’m happy you discovered such a unique place!

  • Darke Conteur

    I think most of the world thinks that because they are a Communist country, it’s as harsh, bleak, horrible world, and that’s what we in the west have been brainwashed into thinking. Just seeing pictures of this creativity is testiment to that, otherwise, you wouln’d have been allowed to take these pictures.

  • Marianne Su

    So glad you posted this, Anne. It is uplifting to see art alive in China. I’ve studied the Cultural Revolution a lot and have always been interested in that time in Chinese history. It saddens me to remember what happened to artists and their craft during that time but like so many things that give us passion about life, art will survive. I’m glad you’re witness to this.

  • Lisa Forget

    Love your wonderful pictures Anne! How impressive it must be to stand next to those creatures!
    Thank you for sharing!

  • Natalie Westgate

    I’m wondering if it’s not an overall “down with artists!” thing, but more that they very much control what gets written in China, especially if it’s about China. So saying you’re a writer may come with a “no you can’t come in” decree or maybe a “you must sign this document granting China complete control over all of your writing for the next x years”, which no writer would ever sign lol!

  • Gareth

    Oh Wow. Some of our cities could do with things like that.

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