Beijing's Revolution

On the eve of the Summer Games, China's capital is buzzing with a hot cultural scene, creative entrepreneurs and a collection of new buildings

Claro Cortes IV / Reuters

Joyside band performs at the D-22 Bar in Beijing, China on December 9, 2007.

Lu Hao is putting the finishing touches on his latest work, a huge portrait of a pigtailed young girl. Dressed in slacks, a pink polo shirt and loafers, Lu chats casually with a string of visitors who drift in and out of his studio. Some are fellow artists and dealers from the community several thousand strong occupying the courtyards and alleys here in Songzhuang, in Beijing's eastern suburbs. The conversation ranges from gossip about colleagues through the sources of artistic inspiration to the merits of colleges in Australia, where Lu's son is studying. Later, Lu and I hop into his brand-new,...

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