Into Focus: Magician Space

Representing Beijing: Billy Tang and Qu Kejie of Magician Space on exhibiting in London

Tell us about where you’re based in Beijing.
 
Our gallery is located in the 798 Art Zone district in Beijing, a decommissioned military factory partly designed by the East Germans using a bauhaus-influenced approach. The building we occupy is smaller than the epic sized spaces some people are used to. It was important for us to try to allow the artworks themselves to dictate how the space functions - sometimes with large spaces it can be the other way around.
 
Magician Space, Beijing
 
How did you choose the gallery’s name?
 
It’s hard to explain – it plays with the English meaning and the phonetic translation into Chinese characters. In Chinese, there is an allusion to alchemy: of distilling or refining materials to discover something like gold. So it’s philosophical and proto-scientific. Of course in English there's the idea of things appearing or being conjured up in front of your eyes.
 
How would you describe the gallery's programme?  
 
The programme is cross-generational in approach and looks to cultivate a dialogue with different contexts that travel internationally. We look for “blind spots” in the way contemporary art has develop in China, and from there, try to find ways to connect our artists with new audiences.
 
What are you presenting at Focus
 
It’s a curated presentation by Liu Chuang and will be the first time his work is shown in a solo context in the UK. He’s a conceptual artist dealing with modernity in China, especially as it has unfolded following after the 1980 and the Open Door policy. It will involve many layers across the stand - sculpture, an animation work, and an installation. The underlying theme is an ancient Chinese symbol that somehow survives through eras by adapting itself across different carriers: the artist researches its reappearance in a popular Chinese animation from the ‘80s. The form of the symbol is also mirrored in a pattern weaved into the frame of a metal chair, and porcelain vessels double as flickering electric lights.

Liu Chuang, What is a Screen (detail), 2015. Courtesy the artist and Magician Space, Beijing.

It can be a big undertaking to participate in a fair in London for a gallery so far away…
 
It feels good to be representing the gallery scene in Beijing - a city where most of the emerging and established Chinese artists live and have their studios. The Focus section allows  attention – for us, an opportunity to give a dedicated space for people to immerse themselves in the richer narrative of Liu Chuang's wider practice.
 
Are there any other galleries in the section you look forward to seeing?  
 
We’re looking forward to seeing the whole thing – we’re curious about how the other galleries manage to express their artists' work within the spatial dimensions of the Focus stand.
 
What else around London do you plan to do during Frieze Week?
 
Catching up with our friends at Bao and their new restaurant; eating the small dishes at Koya or Morito; late dinners in Chinatown; and finding a great London pub too. In terms of art: very curious to see Cabinet's new space, and I find the ethos of Cubitt Space very inspiring. Also I have enjoyed every show I have been to at Rodeo and look forward to the exhibition they have at the moment.
 
What are you currently showing in Beijing?
 
Our second solo exhibition with artist Jiang Zhi, whose practice developed out of the historic ‘Post-Sense, Sensibility’ exhibition in 1999, and for our gallery has created a touching moving-image installation.
 
Qu Keije
 
Magician Space is exhibiting in Focus at Frieze London
 
Stand number: H28

Most Read

A report commissioned by the museum claims Raicovich ‘misled’ the board; she disputes the investigation’s claims
In further news: Jef Geys (1934–2018); and Hirshhorn postpones Krzysztof Wodiczko projection after Florida shooting
If the city’s pivot to contemporary art was first realized by landmark construction, then what comes after might not...
Ignoring its faux-dissident title, this year's edition at the New Museum displays a repertoire that is folky, angry,...
An insight into royal aesthetics's double nature: Charles I’s tastes and habits emerge as never before at London’s...
In other news: Artforum responds to #NotSurprised call for boycott of the magazine; Maria Balshaw apologizes for...
At transmediale in Berlin, contesting exclusionary language from the alt-right to offshore finance
From Shanghai to Dubai, a new history charts the frontiers where underground scenes battle big business for electronic...
Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton, UK
Zihan Karim, Various Way of Departure, 2017, video still. Courtesy: Samdani Art Foundation
Can an alternative arts network, unmediated by the West's commercial capitals and burgeoning arts economies of China...
‘That moment, that smile’: collaborators of the filmmaker pay tribute to a force in California's film and music scenes...
In further news: We Are Not Surprised collective calls for boycott of Artforum, accuses it of 'empty politics'; Frida...
We Are Not Surprised group calls for the magazine to remove Knight Landesman as co-owner and withdraw move to dismiss...
Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film is both gorgeous and troubling in equal measure
With Zona Maco opening in the city today, a guide to the best exhibitions across the Mexican capital
The question at the heart of Manchester Art Gallery’s artwork removal: what are the risks when cultural programming...
In further news: Sonia Boyce explains removal of Manchester Art Gallery’s nude nymphs; Creative Scotland responds to...
Ahead of the India Art Fair running this weekend in the capital, a guide to the best shows to see around town
The gallery argues that the funding body is no longer supportive of institutions that maintain a principled refusal of...
The Dutch museum’s decision to remove a bust of its namesake is part of a wider reconsideration of colonial histories,...
At New York’s Metrograph, a diverse film programme addresses a ‘central problem’ of feminist filmmaking
Ronald Jones pays tribute to a rare critic, art historian, teacher and friend who coined the term Post-Minimalism
In further news: curators rally behind Laura Raicovich; Glasgow's Transmission Gallery responds to loss of Creative...
Nottingham Contemporary, UK
‘An artist in a proud and profound sense, whether he liked it or not’ – a tribute by Michael Bracewell
Ahead of a show at Amsterdam’s EYE Filmmuseum, how the documentarian’s wandering gaze takes in China’s landscapes of...
In further news: Stedelijk explains why it cancelled Ettore Sottsass retrospective; US National Gallery of Art cancels...
With 11 of her works on show at the Musée d'Orsay, one of the most underrated artists in modern European history is...
Reopening after a two-year hiatus, London’s brutalist landmark is more than a match for the photographer’s blockbuster...
What the Google Arts & Culture app tells us about our selfie obsession
At a time of #metoo fearlessness, a collection of female critics interrogate their own fandom for music’s most...
A rare, in-depth interview with fashion designer Jil Sander

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

October 2017

frieze magazine

November - December 2017

frieze magazine

January - February 2018