BANK Gallery Founder Mathieu Borysevicz on the Growth of Shanghai’s Art Scene
Advisory Perspective

BANK Gallery Founder Mathieu Borysevicz on the Growth of Shanghai’s Art Scene

By Misha Maruma | Shanghai, 10 November 2021

The growth of China's economy and global influence in the 21st century has been reflected in the expansion of its art market. No place is this more evident than in Shanghai.

'When we founded BANK in an old bank building near the Bund, we just had the Rockbund Art Museum as "art neighbours",' gallery founder Mathieu Borysevicz tells me. 'The art scene was still very much confined to a bunch of local galleries holed up in the M50 factory district.' This was in 2013.

Today, BANK has moved to the former French Concession, and the Bund area now hosts a wealth of foreign blue-chip galleries including Perrotin, Lisson, and Almine Rech. It is also home to Christie's offices and showrooms.

BANK Gallery Founder Mathieu Borysevicz on the Growth of Shanghai’s Art Scene Exhibition view: Chen Tianzhuo, PARADI$E BITCH, Bank, Shanghai (19 July– 31 August 2014). Courtesy Bank MABSOCIETY, Shanghai.

The West Bund art district has grown exponentially in that time, with at least six new museums dedicated mostly to contemporary art, many affiliated with world-renowned Western museums such as the Tate, Centre Pompidou, and LACMA.

West Bund Art & Design returns to the district amidst a series of fairs taking place in November, including Art021. The two flagship fairs follow on from PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai and collectable design event Design Miami/ Podium x Shanghai at the Bund.

This year BANK will only be exhibiting at Art021, whereas in previous years they showed at both flagship fairs. 'Covid-19 has given us an excuse to be realistic and just choose one fair,' says Borysevicz. 'We like to be democratic and so next year we'll probably do West Bund. They're both great fairs for different reasons.'

Though Shanghai art week has become the it moment in China's contemporary art calendar, the strict three-week quarantine to enter the country means attending the fairs is not viable to many outside this year.


Selected Artworks at ART021, Shanghai by Bank MABSOCIETY


The expansion of contemporary galleries in the 2010s drew younger artists to the city, with BANK at the forefront of this mood. 'I'd like to think that we set a tone and precedent for more internationalism, professionalism, calibre and fun,' says Borysevicz.

Developing a high-quality and eclectic programme, BANK has exhibited heavyweights such as Patty Chang and trailblazing Chinese millennial artist Chen Tianzhuo to a growing and increasingly important local audience. 'China is just one more place for Chinese and non-Chinese artists to cultivate their practice,' says Borysevicz.

At the most recent Frieze London, BANK exhibited in the Focus section with a presentation of works by Lin Ke that blurred the line between digital and physical painting. Included in Artsy's top 15 booths at Frieze, with the paintings on display resembling physical manifestations of Photoshop files, the gallery also won best booth at Beijing Contemporary in October 2021, featuring artworks by Chen Zhe, Sun Yitian, Lin Ke, Tim Crowley, Geng Yini, Nik Kosmas, Michael Lin, Shi Xiaobo, and Heidi Voet.

Exhibition view: Chen Tianzhuo, PARADI$E BITCH, Bank, Shanghai (19 July– 31 August 2014).

Exhibition view: Chen Tianzhuo, PARADI$E BITCH, Bank, Shanghai (19 July– 31 August 2014). Courtesy Bank, Shanghai.

The growth of the contemporary art scene in China is reflected in the success of Art021 and West Bund Art & Design. It also reflects China's developing cultural identity. As Chinese collectors look to Shanghai art week as a way to build knowledge and expand their collections, interest in works by Western artists may shift to a focus on investing in Chinese artists and Chinese galleries.

It is also evident that the growth of interest in Chinese artists at Shanghai art week is being fuelled by new millennial and Gen Z collectors, who are increasingly collecting artworks by Chinese artists born in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

So where is the Chinese contemporary art scene headed? 'I think there was and will continue to be a growing sense of homogeneity,' says Borysevicz. 'On the one side, while there is a provincialism to what's happening in Shanghai, just as there is in New York, Berlin, or even say Chengdu, the scene has also never been so globalised.' —[O]

Main image: Exhibition view: Tri Solo: Lawrence Lek, Nik Kosmas, Tim Crowley, BANK, Shanghai (13 March–21 April 2021). Courtesy BANK.

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