Ling Jian's dramatic painting hangs in the lobby.

Artistic Expressions

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A gallery-worthy collection combines contemporary art with Chinese heritage at Waldorf Astoria Beijing

Uniquely integrating modern elegance and local history, the new Waldorf Astoria Beijing is poised to provide an experience that is both authentic and memorable.

Located on 700-year-old Wangfujing Street in Beijing's Dongcheng District, the dramatic copper building features architec- ture that is undoubtedly modern yet recalls the symmetry of traditional Chinese design. Inside, the past and present come together even more beautifully.

Its dazzling 600-piece art collection, which was curated by James Robertson Art Consultants, includes works by eminent Chinese and international contemporary artists.

"The collection fits within the context of a modern China, but it is also deeply tied to its heritage,"" says Gordon Gill, design partner at Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, which designed the hotel.

Amid the vast collection, works by contemporary Chinese artists are particularly notable. The creators have seemingly mastered the delicate balance of honoring their aesthetic past while moving away from tradition.

The lobby is home to the largest work, a circular painting more than 9 feet in diameter by renowned artist Ling Jian. It depicts an androgynous face, with the upper half done in black, white, and gray, while the lower half is vivid flesh tones. A transparent veil runs horizontally across the picture, slightly occluding the face and insisting viewers look harder to really see a past they may think they already know.

Luo Xiadong's large oil painting titled Postcard also plays with the expected, depicting the Forbidden City in black and white. However, the buildings' tattered edges cause the pictorial elements to shift, and force the eye to encounter the familiar as something unknown.

Shao Fan, one of China's most significant artists, liberates another classic form in his painting of two teacups and saucers. Elsewhere in the hotel, his sculpture of a deconstructed antique chair, with its pieces suspended in intersecting acrylic planes, frees the iconic design from its conventional form.

Amid these explorations—and there are many more—artist Liu Yaoxian uses a narrow range of soothing blues and grays to capture the delicate, mysterious exchange among light, clouds, and water in a work from his Water series. The painting invokes the subtlety and splendor of nature while inviting the hotel guest to escape for a moment in this profound composition.

Fortunately for guests, their moment of escape into the hotel's works of art will last much longer.