What’s Up in Shanghai: November 2020
By The Editors
Shanghai’s annual art week is carrying on in 2020, even while the rest of the world struggles with new waves of Covid-19. As the city has been relatively insulated from the pandemic, events are largely mask-free, though also absent are the legions of international visitors as China still remains mostly closed to non-nationals. Nevertheless, the calendar is packed: there are two art fairs taking place, a five-day symposium to launch the 13th Shanghai Biennial, and Shanghai’s museums and galleries are opening exhibitions throughout the first two weeks of the month. ArtAsiaPacific’s editors select highlights from across the city’s many events.
Nov 11–Jan 9, 2021
“Spring” features London-based Maria Farrar’s new and vibrantly colored paintings, most of which were created during a Covid-19 lockdown, that signal a desire for new beginnings. Oil painting Sunflower (2020), depicting two women in summer dresses among a sea of flora, was inspired by a real-life account from a man who had recovered from coronavirus and who recalls experiencing hope and peace while looking over the hospital’s courtyard.
Nov 8–Jan 24, 2021
Shanghai-based Yang Fudong’s solo exhibition revolves around his well-known technique of “painting as a film,” which the artist developed to examine relationships between spirituality, humanity, and the natural environment. Works on display range from paintings to photography and video installations, portraying historical figures and traditional Chinese landscapes in his reconfiguration of the visual experience. The show also responds to the gallery’s two-story layered architecture, influencing the manner in which viewers interact with the works and their surrounding space.
Nov 12–Dec 5
“Forager” exhibits Shanghai- and Vienna-based artist Yu Ji’s latest sculptural works exploring geographical and historical narratives. Drawn to the connection between the body and both physical and temporal spaces, Yu reflects on the fragility of the human body and our interactions with functional everyday objects, and at the same time blurs lines between art and materiality. The current show, staged in a recently evacuated residential space in the Avenue Apartments, also examines the sense of sentimentality found between the residence and its former tenants.
Nov 13–Jan 13, 2021
Chen Zhe’s photography focuses on the idea of destiny, inspired by both her research on the human condition as well as the current pandemic that has transformed conventional perceptions of the mind and the body. The inkjet print Eternal Ephemera: Sea Girl (2020) combines her investigations of scientific, literal, and shamanistic approaches with concepts of universal spiritualism, humanity, and geological history. Throughout the exhibition, viewers are prompted to ponder historical struggles of humankind, our existence within geological temporality, and our connections with each other.
Oct 20–Dec 25
New York-based Sarah Faux’s large-scale, cut-out canvas collages and abstract monotype prints showcase her personal corporeal experiences, documenting her train of thoughts. She draws inspiration from her life, including lost love and grief along with physical and emotional experiences, that intertwine to inform her individual sense of self. Collage Headrush (2020) depicts juxtaposed muti-colored hands and arms, pulling the viewer into a state of solitude.
Nov 2–Feb 21, 2021
Yang Zhenzhong presents a collection of new sculptures and video works in his solo show “Exposure.” Made with robotic carving technologies, the works highlight the conflicting relationship between humans and technology. His sculptures feature fragments of stones bound together by chains, alluding to the liberty and also the enslavement that technology brings forth, as exemplified in Exposure F (2020), comprising a rock that is sculpted into a spiral and held in chains.
Nov 7–Dec 31
Group exhibition “The Picture Is Not at Ease” features the paintings, videos, and reliefs of Su Yu-Xin, Chen Ying, and Wang Ziquan, all of whom capture the way in which the coronavirus pandemic has impacted commonly shared perceptions of space and time. While Chen's practice focuses on fascination with abstractions, the artworks of Su revolve around the connection between vision, language, and perception. Meanwhile, Wang's installations add another dimension by investigating the realms of the virtual and the real via studies of internet technologies.
Nov 7–Jan 2, 2021
Group exhibition "Breathing Through Skin" comprises a collection of recent works by Mire Lee, Yong Xiang Li, Pedro Neves Marques, and Issy Wood, each experimenting with the idea of the monstrous. Yong and Marques contribute new narratives that challenge existing binaries, exemplified in Marquez's film A Mordida (2018), which focuses on ecological and gender issues. Lee and Wood both employ elements of the grotesque and the erotic, as seen in Woods's heart-shaped painting Untitled (higher education) (2020), showing a grinning mouth revealing stained teeth.
Nov 6–Dec 13
Lu Pingyuan's sculptures and installations in the solo show “Imperishable Affection” amalgamates compassion in life and appreciation of everyday objects. Lu draws particular attention to objects associated with the human body, such as snacks, medicine, and science education, to contemplate on the consciousness and anxieties of the human existence.
Nov 7–Mar 7, 2021
Zhang Enli’s largest retrospective to date, curated by Hou Hanrou, spans his thirty-year long career and features over 100 paintings. On display are Zhang's figurative paintings depicting the perfunctory lives of ordinary people, still lifes that muse on the transitoriness and timelessness of objects, alongside abstractions spotlighting the nature of the consciousness. His newly commissioned immersive installation Space Paintings (2020) experiments with materials to visually shift images inside the room, creating the illusion that the room itself is moving.
Nov 11–Jan 17, 2021
Liu Wei's solo exhibition “Over" showcases new sculptures, installations, and paintings made based on personal reflections of the events of 2020. The works delve into metaphysical notions of matter, figure, and movement, by creating a "microworld" replica of contemporary society in its current state of affairs. In sand installation 1,098.1 Tons Desert (2020), the artist alludes to flash points in the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, contemplating issues of capitalism, colonization, and trade.
Nov 12–Jan 24, 2021
In his solo exhibition, the sculptures and paintings of Tomokazu Matsuyama blend together a vividly-colored fluorescent palette with traditional, subdued Japanese hues, alongside a mixture of other classical and modern styles. In painting Hanabi He Said I Said (2019), the artist renders a brightly colored dreamscape of a man, who is shown dressed in traditional Japanese attire while riding a flying horse, against a rainbow gradient background adorned with various flowers and stars.
Nov 10–Dec 20
London-based mixed media artist Vivien Zhang’s solo exhibition features abstract works with repetitive motifs that she has become known for. With paintings like Hung Platforms (2020), portraying red-pink swirls against white tiles resembling arcade adventure games, Zhang employs combinations of culturally or politically meaningful elements to address issues of globalization, technology, and geopolitics.
Nov 13–Jan 17, 2021
Site-specific solo show by Alex Da Corte at the restored historical Rong Zhai villa features the video work Rubber Pencil Devil (2018), depicting a range of cultural iconography, vintage television imagery, animation, and more. Intended to be an immersive journey that connects viewers with vivid motifs, music, pop cultural references and personalities, the artist creates a kaleidoscopic and illusory experience that examines consumerism.
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