Shanghai Lowdown: Exhibitions to See this Autumn
Cai Guo-Qiang, Encounter with the Unknown (2021). Exhibition view: Odyssey and Homecoming, Museum of Art Pudong, Shanghai (8 July 2021–7 March 2022). Courtesy Cai Guo-Qiang Studio. Photo: Gu Kenryou.
With the return of Shanghai's flagship fairs, ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair and West Bund Art and Design (11 November–14 November 2011), Ocula Magazine presents a list of must-see exhibitions across the city.
Cai Guo-Qiang: Odyssey and Homecoming
New Museum of Art Pudong, No. 2777 Binjiang Avenue
8 July 2021–7 March 2022
Cai Guo-Qiang's first-hand experience with gunpowder during the Cultural Revolution marked a precedent for the artist's infamous gunpowder drawings and firework installations. Inciting at once awe and terror, Cai's works incorporate shanshui elements beautifying grim politics.
Odyssey and Homecoming features 119 paintings that have been shown in major museums and institutions. Cai's first V.R. installation Sleepwalking in the Forbidden City (2021) is also on display.
Long Museum West Bund, 3398 Longteng Avenue
23 October 2021–2 January 2022
Known for her signature drip paintings, American artist Pat Steir has challenged the legacies of Abstract Expressionism throughout her four-decade-long career. As critic and curator John Yau has noted, the artist 'tends to focus on time passing, its entropic power,' using gravity to determine the content of her work.
At the Long Museum West Bund, Steir responds to the classical Chinese art and poetry that has inspired her work, in particular her concerns with time, gravity, and chance.
John Armleder: Again, Just Again
Rockbund Art Museum, 20 Huqiu Road
16 October–19 December 2021
Emerging from the Fluxus movement, Swiss artist John Armleder's paintings, performances, and sculptures have been integral to the merging of high and low art, influenced by the likes of composer John Cage.
Armleder's first major retrospective in China features over five decades of work, including paintings, readymades, paper works, and site-specific installations. On the Museum's third floor, a mise-en-scène by Shanghai-based photographer Leslie Zhang responds to Armleder's practice.
Becoming Andy Warhol
UCCA Edge, 2/F 88 Xizang Bei Road
6 November 2021–3 March 2022
First presented in Beijing, Becoming Andy Warhol traces the life and work of the iconic pop artist who collapsed boundaries between fine art and commercial production, featuring paintings, prints, drawings, film, and photography.
Periods of Andy Warhol's artistic trajectory are brought to life in the five-part narrative—from iconic paintings of the 1960s to artworks inspired by 1980s New York street culture, mapping the role of early photographic influences in the shaping of Warhol's later silkscreen and video works.
Hernan Bas: Choose Your Own Adventure
Yuz Museum, 35 Fenggu Road
28 October 2021–9 January 2022
Known for rendering romantic scenes of waifs and dandies, Hernan Bas' first solo show in China offers a chronological and thematic recounting of the painter's 20-year career over 20 paintings and rarely shown video installations.
Inspired by childhood adventures in the wilderness of Miami and North Florida, paintings in Choose Your Own Adventure are centred around explorations of the natural world, setting tall, lanky figures in lush jungles and pink foliage.
Shara Hughes: The Bridge
Yuz Museum, 35 Fenggu Road
6 November 2021–9 January 2022
Brooklyn-based artist Shara Hughes' detailed interiors and fluorescent landscapes draw inspiration from nature and fin de siècle painting.
The Bridge features paintings titled after natural phenomena, among which The Sun, The Moon, and The Bridge (2021)—a 12-metre oil on canvas scene depicting cliffs along the Hudson River Valley in a cascade of bright reds and deep blues.
Charles Hascoët: The Deep
Galerie Dumonteil, Building 105, 199 Hengshan Road
17 September–17 November 2021
In these allegorical self-portraits, Hascoët takes on the role of a helmetless diver who navigates the deep sea amid decapods and octopi. Narrating a journey towards healing and self-knowledge, the artist contends with immanence across numbing shades of purple.
Tony Cragg's layered sculptures resemble swirling, organic forms mid-movement, often cast in materials like fibreglass, plastic, and bronze.
Cragg's first exhibition with Lisson Gallery in Shanghai features seven recent sculptures derived from drawings depicting stacked forms, cast in bronze and stone. Made from disparate parts, the formations recall early works like Stack (1975)—a blend of found objects and recycled materials.
Ding Shiwei: Faith on Tap
Gallery Vacancy, 5F 660 Sichuan Middle Road
6 November–18 December 2021
Hangzhou-based new-media artist Ding Shiwei's videos and installations replicate digital spectacles in the material world to introduce new ways of thinking about technological encounters that have permeated the everyday.
Across a series of installations adorning neon palettes—starting with video installation Screen Belief (2020)—Faith on Tap reflects the prevalence of technoculture and our numbing engagement with virtuality, culminating in reflections on an apocalyptic future.
Shi Yong's installations and video works incorporate partial sentences, Chinese characters, and text to inquire into Shanghai's transformation under China's economic reform, touching on globalism and consumer culture.
Turning Inward, Until Disappearing, the artist's third solo exhibition with the gallery features a new series of conceptual sculptures and installations centred around the idea of the labyrinth, responding to experiences of uncertainty and confinement during the pandemic.
Nabuqi: Ghost, Skin, Dwelling
Edouard Malingue Gallery, Room 314, No. 7, Lane 314, Tongren Road
10 November–12 December 2021
Beijing-based Mongolian artist Nabuqi explores the space between reality and artifice across installation, readymades, and sculpture. Nabuqi's works expand on the aftermath of urbanisation and associated feelings of nostalgia, vacancy, and abandon.
Ghost, Skin, Dwelling continues the artist's inquiry into spatial politics, featuring sculptures and installations that address object functionality and the frameworks of understanding that imbue things and places with significance.
With a practice rooted in the European painting tradition, self-taught painter Eddie Martinez's canvases appear surprisingly contemporary, representing landscapes, portraits, and still lifes as bright, cartoon-like figures framed by bold lines rendered in quick gestures.
For Fingers Pointing at the Moon, Martinez slows down to take in the present. Featuring recent drawings, works on canvas, and bronze sculptures, the artist revisits old motifs, including vases, tabletops, and flowers.
Sun Yitian: Fly only when the shades of night gather
BANK, B/F, Lane 298 Anfu Road
11 November 2021–20 January 2022
Sun Yitian's cartoon-like paintings show seemingly childish characters—animated animal figures, plastic inflatable toys—dead-eyed, backs turned to viewers. With empty gazes and sleek surfaces, the figures allude to detached engagement in the technological age.
Sun's second solo exhibition at BANK is centred around 'wisdom', incorporating owl motifs and representations of the Roman goddess Minerva to address darkness, façades, and material culture. The exhibition will feature acrylics on canvas like Ken (2021), showing the Barbie doll severed at the head.
Vaughan Spann is an American painter whose work explores memory, space, and time across mixed-media abstractions and vivid figurative paintings, generating reflections of the essence of people and places.
The painter's first solo exhibition in China will feature 'Dalmatian' paintings spotted with geometrical patterns. Resembling the texture of fur, the relief paintings are made up of a blend of sand, modelling paste, and paint.
George Condo: The Picture Gallery
Long Museum West Bund, 3398 Longteng Avenue
26 September–28 November 2021
Renowned for figurative paintings exploring the artifice of representation, George Condo incorporates traditional painting with pop art to create fantastical landscapes and fictional characters recognised for their lack of symmetry and idiosyncratic features.
Condo's largest exhibition in Asia features over 200 paintings, sculptures, and drawings, including 'Neo-Renaissance' paintings, sculptures casting the human psyche in bronze and gold, painted satires of American culture, and 30 unseen portraits. —[O]