park 19 where it’s all at

I went to Park 19 yesterday, the artists studio space on the south side o the river near Xiaogang Park. If I hadn’t been taken by a friend who’s about to rent a studio there I’d have never found it. Park 19 is three floors of a nondescript apartment building close to the Guangzhou Fine Arts Academy, where many of the resident artist work. It’s also the first place I’ve come across here that is like any group of artists renting warehouse space all round the world.

It runs over three floors, with a bar, band venue, bookshop (complete with Chinese translations of Gilles Deleuze) and maybe thirty large studio spaces, which are either lived in permanently or serve as a second home. Being the holidays. it was pretty quiet but several artists were hanging about and the day turned into a tea-drinking afternoon followed by a long dinner.

The place has a bit of a reputation for drinking and fucking, which makes it sound like a normal artist collective studio to me. Lots of people making art, having fun, creating their own place to hang out. Besides the original Park 19 which has been open about 18 months, a new one has sprung up nearby. Unlike say Beijing with the well-known Dashanzi, the arts scene in Guangzhou is not very easy to spot, but it’s here.