Five to see in Shanghai

Fi Churchman makes her pick of shows in the Chinese metropolis...

By Fi Churchman

a.f.art theatreFangling, No Content, 2017, single-channel video, 5 min. Image; courtesy the artist and Don Gallery IMG_526Yu Youhan, Abstract 1990-12, 1990, acrylic on canvas. Image: courtesy the artist and Shanghart, Shanghai4.JPG João Vasco Paiva, The Last Kauai Oo Bird I, 2017, lava stone (batu candy) and audio file. Image: courtesy the artist and Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong

Shanghai Dandy, Don Gallery, 10 November 2017 – 27 January

Don Gallery is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a group exhibition titled Shanghai Dandy. Showcasing 12 of its artists, the gallery calls the title a ‘mega-metaphor’ – one that reflects on its own philosophy of delivering ‘cutting-edge ideas in contemporary art’ through the creation of a persona named – wait for it – Dandy, who’s trying to navigate the professional artworld as an aloof but self-conscious Baudelairian wanderer. Whether or not the exhibition is successful in conveying this theme, the works on show hold their own. Zhang Ruyi’s concrete cacti make an appearance, as does a dramatic and melancholic painting of a secluded pond by Beijing-based artist Lu Song. Watch out for a.f.art theatreFangling’s video, who also happens to be presenting a work at ArtReview Asia Xiàn Chǎng this weekend at West Bund Art & Design.


Wang Xin, Hamster Wheel, 2016, steel pipe, light bulb, LCD television, wire. Image: courtesy the artist and de Sartre Gallery, Hong KongWang Xin, Hamster Wheel, 2016, steel pipe, light bulb, LCD television, wire. Courtesy the artist and de Sartre Gallery, Hong Kong

Shanghai Galaxy II, Yuz Museum, 10 November – 11 February

A couple of blocks’ walk away is a rather larger group exhibition: two years on from its inaugural exhibition, Yuz Museum presents the second instalment of curator Wu Hung’s series of group shows – this titled Shanghai Galaxy II. Bringing together 22 artists who are either Shanghai-based or whose works address the city itself, this newly opened exhibition includes sculptures, installations, photography, painting, video, and performances produced between 2016 and 2017. Expect to see some familiar names; Ming Wong, Liu Jianhua, Birdhead, Michael Lin, Wang Xin and Yu Youhan are part of the lineup.


IMG_526Yu Youhan, Abstract 1990-12, 1990, acrylic on canvas. Image: courtesy the artist and Shanghart, Shanghai4.JPGYu Youhan, Abstract 1990-12, 1990, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy the artist and Shanghart, Shanghai

Yu Youhan, Shanghart, 10 November – 15 January

Yu Youhan makes a solo appearance with his show The Representational and The Abstract, down the road at Shanghart . Yu is an artist associated with the political pop movement, but his paintings also incorporate abstract landscapes and figurative elements, combining traditional Chinese painting techniques with Expressionism. You can expect to see both his most recent paintings, but also some rarely seen early works as well as more intimate watercolour works on paper. Highly recommended.


Chen Zhe, The Only Question is How to Endure (detail), 2017, various materials. Image: courtesy the artist and Bank, ShanghaiChen Zhe, The Only Question is How to Endure (detail), 2017, various materials. Courtesy the artist and Bank, Shanghai

Chen Zhe, BANK, 9 September – 20 November

Heading west from the river, make sure to catch Chen Zhe’s Flown Away Is The Gold of Days – Works from ‘Towards Evening: Six Chapters’ before it ends this month. Although Towards Evening (2012–) is an ongoing research project, Flown Away… consists of a series of ‘chapters’ that, presented here, ‘materialize her long fascination with the complex and transient experiences of “dusk”’. On display are works in various media, from photography, video and installation, to objects presented in curiosity cabinets. Tying it all together are the text works: Chen’s lyricism and lines from other authors lend this show a moody mysteriousness that lingers.


João Vasco Paiva, The Last Kauai Oo Bird I, 2017, lava stone (batu candy) and audio file. Image: courtesy the artist and Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong KongJoão Vasco Paiva, The Last Kauai Oo Bird I, 2017, lava stone (batu candy) and audio file. Courtesy the artist and Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong

Scraggly Beard Grandpa, Capsule, 4 November – 22 December

On a lighter note (and also just around the corner), this group show has been curated by Cici Wu and Wang Xu of New York-based Chinese artist collective PRACTICE, who are showing 12 artists under the premise of what it means to communicate across borders, languages and national identity (though we’re still unclear on what the title means). Particularly appealing here are Hong Kong-based João Vasco Paiva’s The Last Kauai Oo Bird I & II (both 2017) in which Nike trainers carved out of Hawaiian lava stone – watered by the gallerist each day to see if they sprout some greenery – is accompanied by an audio track from the 1930s playing the mesmerising calls of the now extinct Kauai O’o forest bird.

Now you know what see, we’re off to eat la mian. But you’ll have to find that on your own...