ShanghART Singapore Revisits Radical First Show for 10th Anniversary
In 2012, painter Zhang Enli shocked ShanghART founder Lorenz Helbling by limiting the new gallery space to just a few square metres near the entrance.
Zhang Enli, Judge (2022). Oil on canvas. Courtesy the artist and ShanghART.
Artist Zhang Enli made a bold decision for the opening of ShanghART Singapore in 2012. He restricted the newly renovated exhibition space to just a few square metres near the entrance, saying this 'leaves the gallery and me room to do more in the future'.
ShanghART founder Lorenz Helbling said the most memorable thing about the show was that, 'we couldn't show off our space!'
'It was hard,' he said. 'At the same time, it was a reminder that exhibitions can be done in many ways, and they don't have to be determined just by the space. In the recent, difficult years, we got back to thinking about this again more and more.'
Since then, ShanghART Singapore has staged a number of memorable events and exhibitions. Helbling recalls both Melati Suryodarmo's performance Transaction of Hollows (2018) and the 2019 show Arin Rungjang: They Beat Your Father as 'new, intense experiences for me.'
Goh Chun Aik, Director of ShanghART Singapore, also mentioned the gallery's Southeast Artist residency exchange — which brought Chinese artists Birdhead, Hu Jieming, Hu Weiyi, and Tang Maohong to Singapore — and pop-up projects such as Zhang Ding's Enter the Dragon in 2016 and Robert Zhao Renhui's outdoor light box installation in 2018.
For their tenth anniversary show, which opens on 24 September and continues through 20 November, ShanghART Singapore is returning to that first exhibition.
The small space Zhang used to display sculptures and just three works in 2012 has been marked out on the gallery's floor. This time, though, the entire space is put to use, with works by Zhang complemented by performance art, film, and photography by three Southeast Asian artists: Robert Zhao Renhui, Melati Suryodarmo, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
From 8 October, XU ZHEN®'s ambitious Signal project will also arrive in Singapore. Launched at Art Jakarta in August, Signal seeks to establish an endless art exhibition across social media sites. It centres on the Passion series (2021–ongoing) of abstract expressionist paintings loosely based on social media screens.
'These paintings are a reaction to the mental state we share on social media, and as such function as a cathartic release of my emotions,' Xu said.
XU ZHEN® is currently making 200 to 300 paintings per week. He is sending them to friends using apps such as WeChat, Weibo, Xiaohongshu, and Instagram. By broadening the collector base to members of the public, he aims to have 100,000 collectors of his Passion paintings by 2025.
'It is joyous and exciting to own a piece of art,' Xu explained. 'What excites me is the attitude of "I have it and I want to share it".'
'From 10,000 to 100,000 to 500,000 people, as the number of people who possess a painting from the Passion series grows, the Signal project shall become a shared memory of humankind and a monument to the era,' he said. —[O]