Often compared to New York City's Greenwich Village because it is a melting pot of contemporary art and culture, Beijing's Dashanzi district is a knowing irony of Cold War era warehouses that still bear the slogans of Mao, combined with China's best avant-garde art exhibits and artist living spaces. Ever growing since contemporary artists reclaimed it in 2001, this is is your best bet to see art in all of its forms encompassing a wide range of messages, quite often political.
These days the area is gentrified, meaning the cost of rent has pushed out all but the galleries, cafes, design companies etc. that serve the hipster/faux-Bohemian community that thrives here. Still, the 798 is a must-see for any adventurer looking to run across artists willing to express themselves despite the possible consequences of their views.