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Bruce Doar. Obituary: Frank Uytterhaegen (1954-2011)

Frank will be remembered for his enthusiasm for Chinese culture and his keen artistic eye. These qualities ensured that the burgeoning unofficial art of China of the 1980s and the 1990s captured his attention. He frequented art shows, became friends with many artists, and in the 1990s began to support the curatorial work and research about contemporary Chinese art being conducted by Hans Van Dijk (1946-2002), who shared Frank’s vision of the importance of art’s challenge for a sound society. In 1997, Frank established the China Art and Archive Warehouse (CAAW), the first non-profit experimental space for independent artists in Beijing. Located in the Caochangdi district, CAAW provided accommodation and gallery space for the artists it mentored and exhibited; it also saw the meeting of Frank, Hans Van Dijk, and the then relatively unknown Ai Weiwei. Their aim was not only to provide a place for experimentation, but also to assemble and document an archive of ‘avant-garde’ art. Initially, this remote venue attracted few visitors, outside of minority art circles and the occasional overseas collector, but its reputation for edgy exhibitions grew rapidly. Among the artists who benefited from CAAW were Wang Xingwei, Xie Nanxing, Zheng Guogu, Hong Lei, Liu Ding, An Hong, Chen Shaoxiong, Hong Hao, Huang Yan, Qiu Zhijie, Shi Yong, and Wang Jin – some of China’s leading artists.

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