The Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA) is a contemporary art centre situated in the heart of the 798 Art Zone in Beijing.It was founded by Baron Guy Ullens, a Belgian art collector, philanthropist and former business man, together with his wife Myriam. UCCA’s first exhibition, 85 New Wave: The Birth of Contemporary Art examined the explosion in artistic creation that took place in China in the 80s as a reaction to the socialist realist style of 60s and 70s.
This exhibition set the tone for the Centre’s curatorial programme which aims to promote China’s contemporary art to the world while also bringing world-class exhibits to China, encouraging the public to engage with contemporary art and culture. It also serves as a platform for the works of artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Tino Seghal, Tatsuo Miyajima, Taryn Siomon and Sterling Ruby – introducing China to these significant figures in contemporary art.
The Centre is located over three factory chambers which were built in the early 1950s to Bauhaus–influenced designs and maintains elements of the building’s industrial past. Renovated by the French architect, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, in collaboration with Chinese architect, Qingyun Ma, the Centre covers 8000 square metres encompassing four main exhibition spaces, including the signature Great Hall, the Central Gallery, the Nave and the Long Gallery, each of which supports outstanding exhibitions. Alongside the main exhibition spaces, there is also a contemporary arts library, one of the first of its kind in China.
The Centre’s exhibition spaces play host each year to around 15 exhibitions of varying scale, as well as educational and interpretive programmes. As an international museum, UCCA has a focus on recent developments and historical movements in Chinese contemporary art, alongside exhibitions devoted to major trends and figures from the region and the world. The Centre also offers a meeting place for exchange, communication and study; offering events that include talks and forums, art cinema, live performances, workshops and family and school programmes.