Site logo


Looking at the global from local...

BRIC Art Space: Definition

Beijing is hosting an innovative art space starting from September 2014: the BRIC Art Space. It will be located in the core of 798, the Beijing Art Zone. The BRIC Art Space will be a meeting point for anybody involved or interested in art. “What means to be contemporary today?” will be the endless question confronted by the BRIC Art Space. Multi-sensorial experience, crossover, contamination between different arts, will be the main features of the BRIC Art Space. But why this label, “BRIC Art Space”? What is its meaning?

BRIC in the sense in which the acronym “BRIC” has been coined by the economist Jim O’Neill from Goldman Sachs. Therefore BRIC here stays for Brazil, Russia, India and China (the “Big Four”).
Art in the sense in which the word “art” has been used before the 17th century. Thus art here is not narrowed to the so called “fine arts” but includes as well poetry, music, theater, live performances, design, architecture, till arriving at fashion and food.
Space in the sense of the Greek word “agorà”, a meeting point, a gathering space, open to anybody interested into artistic, cultural and spiritual topics.


The BRIC Art Space will be mainly dedicated to art coming from Brazil, Russia, India and China insofar as we firmly believe that the art coming from these countries is already setting up an artistic space complementary to the Western one preponderant till now. But then, as the business news show, why not BRIC+S, including therefore as well South Africa? Actually “BRIC & more…” should be a more precise label insofar as the BRIC Art Space will focus its own attention as well to other emerging countries metaphorically adjacent to the BRIC ones, by keeping constantly one specific point of view: looking to the local from the global but as well looking to the global from the local.

Conceptual framework

What about the conceptual framework behind this space? Our space will not take care about academic distinctions such as for instance the one between figurative and abstract art. Yet we will assert that subject is crucial and that the only subject-matter which is artistically valid is the one expressing basic human emotions: ecstasy, tragedy, doom. Political, social, gender art will be of no interest to us unless these topics will be represented through a timeless and universal approach. Of course we are interested in ideas, in concepts, beside images or sounds. However in our view art is not only “conceptual”. Cannot be only conceptual. In our view art works cannot be conceived as chapters of political or social essays. The aim of art is to express the essence of the universal human drama without forgetting that each of us has its own spatio-temporal identity, its own spatio-temporal location. In this view art is basically a spiritual experience or, as Barnett Newman once put it, “art is a metaphysical act”.


What art therefore will the BRIC Art Space show? We all are what we feel: what we see, what we hear, what we smell, what we touch, what we taste. As we have already mentioned, multi-sensorial experience, crossover, contamination between different arts, will be the distinctive aspect of the BRIC Art Space. At the same time, when coming out, our visitors should feel that this experience has allowed them to get in touch with the leading cultural trends of contemporary society. Therefore “what means being contemporary today?” will be the main question continuously faced by the events organized by the BRIC Art Space. What means to be a human being now in Brazil, or in Russia, or in India, or in China, will be the focus of our physical but as well imaginary space, because, we believe, the answer to this question changes accordingly to time and location. What is art from our point of view then? What is specifically “contemporary art”? What is our “manifesto”?

1. Art has a metaphysical concern. Art dwells on the essence of being a human being. Art deals on metaphysical issues such as space, time, change and transformation, the lasting behind the change, the invisible behind the appearances, the “unknown”.

2. Art declines concepts for favouring emotions. If art is a form of metaphysical investigation, then art deals with the “unknown” which by definition cannot be said or even thought. Therefore art refuses the “saying” for privileging the “showing”, as the Austrian philosopher L. Wittgenstein would say. Art can only make at most an attempt to show something that by definition cannot be thought conceptually and thus expressed linguistically.

3. Art looks ahead by sitting on the shoulders of the past. It makes use of the cultural roots of its own geography by using the spirit of images or sounds or experiences coming from its own tradition for expressing the main characters of the universal human drama. Yet it accomplishes this by dressing these images or sounds or experiences through the use of contemporary techniques and representations.

If all this is true, then contemporary art by definition will refuse the “no-where” culture unfortunately characterizing the BRIC countries today, therefore aiming to rediscover the cultural identity of these countries. Such a refusal of a culture which is actually a “no-where” culture is transversal to most of the BRIC art. It is a postcolonial scheme, as Terry Smith emphasizes in his well known book, Contemporary Art - World Currents. All these countries are “no-where” places, meaning countries which have lost their own cultural identity. It looks like they have lost one perspective: they are able only to look at the local from the global. On the contrary they should be able to look at the world without becoming the world, by keeping their own local point of view, by sitting on the shoulders of its own past for looking ahead better than the most are able to do. It is a movement form local to global and viceversa. It is as well a movement from past to future. It is exactly such a movement, such going back and forth from local to global, together with the movement from past to present, and from present to future, which will characterize the BRIC Art Space as an unparalleled art location in the world.

General Information