What’s Up in Shanghai: August–September 2020
It’s summer in Shanghai, and while there are still Covid-19 cases being reported, residents are otherwise enjoying their daily lives. Many museums and galleries have staged new exhibitions. Here are some shows to check out for the next two months.
Jul 3–Aug 22 / Jul 24–Aug 22
Perrotin, in collaboration with New York’s Kasmin Gallery presents Mark Ryden’s latest paintings and illustrations in “Anima Animals,” comprised of over 40 portraits of cartoon-like mystical creatures, some directly referencing canonical Old Master works. While the characters evoke qualities of plush dolls, the works embody darker tones, exploring the subconscious. Meanwhile, group exhibition “Messenger” features recent paintings and sculptural works by 13 artists including Chen Ke, Jens Fänge, Barry McGee, and Takashi Murakami, among others, who were invited to reflect upon the question of “What do artists as ‘messengers’ want to convey today, and how?”
Jun 20–Aug 23
“Echo on Papers” features close to 30 works on paper from Chen Qiang, Huang Yuanqing, and Jing Shijian. The group exhibition charts the changing role of the medium in the evolution of Chinese art, from the material of literati cultivation to one used by the avant-garde. The three artists forge their own paths through this trajectory, synthesizing Western abstraction with this rich history to create works such as geometric patterns by Chen, calligraphy like paintings by Huang, and ink washed works by Jing.
Jun 20–Aug 23
The group exhibition features 11 artists and contemplates the idea of “cloudy” as an atmospherical state that resonates with the human psyche. Painters like Lu Song and Li Shan explore the threshold between outer and inner landscape through Garden Sunset (2019) and Untitled (1970), in which the artist’s own identity is an ever-expanding “cloud.” Other artists like Zhang Ruyi and Xiang Zhenhua take more conceptual approaches with mixed media works that consider the “cloud” as a conception of the urban or digital network that illustrates contemporary ecological thinking.
Jul 18–Sep 6
In “New Phone for Every Week,” Zhou Siwei presents a series of oil paintings executed on traditional canvases and 3D-printed iPhone cases. The illustrations reveal a cryptic narrative compiled from a series of disparate experiences and sensations that formed the starting point of Zhou’s creative process, inspired by the “humid and warm smell of 23-degree rain that appeared on the mobile phone screen that day,” a covered-up tattoo, and the pleasures of online games. The dark, neon-like smudges, and dreamy, misty visuals blend the threshold of virtual and reality.
Aug 12–Sep 26
The first solo exhibition of emerging artist Yan Xinyue showcases a series of paintings from the past two years, presenting vignettes of everyday life in the metropolis. The works, featuring figures in bright, saccharine colors and patterns are both intriguing and slightly disturbing. In paintings like Glasses Crisis and The Souvenir #1 (both 2020), of a server with a tipped tray of glasses and a shirt printed with a skeleton riding a bicycle, Yan captures fragmented moments of daily precarity and horror.
Aug 2–Sep 27
Wang Huangsheng’s solo exhibition is named after his performance video Breathe IN/OUT (2019), which shows Wang striking a series of oxygen canisters like musical instruments. The work, an unsettlingly prescient of Covid-19, which attacks the respiratory system, inspired him to create Diary of an Epidemic (2020). The new series features re-mediated found objects such as oxygen bottles, discarded mattresses, iron wire, sealing tape, and gauze bandages that have been converted into ghostly paintings, ink rubbings, or photographed images of themselves.
Sep 12–Oct 24
In her debut exhibition in Shanghai, Shirazeh Houshiary charts her 2018 trip to China through a series of painting and sculptural works. Inspired by her visit to Dunhuang’s Buddhist Cave Temples during which she learned about the site’s role as a cross-regional hub, Houshiary sought images that transcend across cultures, contemplating the essence of existence. Paintings like Swell, Parable, Mind and Matter, Chimera, and The Big Picture (all 2020) evoke swirling cosmos, while the sculpture Duet (2020) features ribbon motifs seeking to connect us all.
Aug 8–Oct 31
The group exhibition “Interrupted Meals,” inspired by French philosopher Michel Serres’s book The Parasite (1982), considers how relationships between humanity and nature have been altered during the “interrupted” time of Covid-19. Featuring works by the late Joseph Beuys in conjunction with contemporary artists like Yuichiro Tamura, Lo Lai Lai Natalie, and Zheng Bo, among others, this show seeks to explore the multitudes of miniscule connections between cultures and ecosystems, in which binaries between human versus nature and human versus artificial are indistinguishable.
Jul 31–Nov 15
In anticipation of the opening of the 13th Shanghai Biennale in November 2020, “Shanghai Waves” presents more than 60 paintings, sculptures, and installations from 51 Chinese and international artists, many of whom were featured in previous editions of the Biennale. The group exhibition charts the history of the Biennale and its evolution alongside contemporary Chinese history, while also illustrating the artists’ personal developments. Highlights include Fang Lijun’s monochromatic figurative woodblock print 1999.5.1 (1999) and Xu Zhen’s clock installation Dang, Dang, Dang, Dang…, created for the 2004 Biennale.
Sep 26–Jan 10, 2021
Painter André Butzer’s retrospective “Light, Colour and Hope” spans the artist’s 25-year practice, including his most recent works. Using thickly-applied paint on canvas, he synthesizes his German heritage and his interest in American culture to create abstracted figures embodying expressions of rhythm, color, and light. At the same time, the chaotic colors convey an underlying sense of hysteria and anxiety that comes with modern existence.
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