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Shanghai Lowdown: Exhibitions to See this Autumn

By Elaine YJ Zheng  |  Shanghai, 11 November 2021

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.

Abstract drip paintings hanging in exhibition space

Exhibition view: Pat Steir, Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai (23 October 2021–2 January 2022). Courtesy Long Museum.

Pat Steir
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.

Two abstract paintings hanging besides small lion sculpture and tree

Exhibition view: John Armleder, Again, Just Again, Rockbund Art Museum, Tokyo (16 October–19 December 2021). Courtesy Rockbund Art Museum.

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.

Series of pop art portraits showing man from profile and side surrounded by metal frame

Exhibition view: Becoming Andy Warhol, UCCA Edge (6 November 2021–22 March 2022). Courtesy UCCA Center for Contemporary Art.

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.

Painting of young man posing in pink jungle on acrylic on canvasPa

Hernan Bas, The Guru (2013–2014). Acrylic on linen. 213.4 × 548.6 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York/Hong Kong/Seoul/London.

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 Sun (2021). Oil, acrylic and dye on canvas. 172.5 x 152.5 cm.

Shara Hughes, The Sun (2021). Oil, acrylic and dye on canvas. 172.5 x 152.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Yuz Museum.

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.

Oil on canvas painting of diver holding helmet at the bottom of ocean looking at octopus

Charles Hascoët, Scuba Diver 1 (2021). Oil on canvas. 193 x 130 cm. Courtesy Galerie Dumonteil Contemporary.

Charles Hascoët: The Deep
Galerie Dumonteil, Building 105, 199 Hengshan Road
17 September–17 November 2021

The Deep presents a series of paintings by Charles Hascoët depicting magical, underwater scenes that the artist composed following his separation with his wife and the passing of his father.

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.

Vertical bronze sculpture made from bronze

Tony Cragg, Senders (2019). Bronze. 120 x 58 x 53 cm. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Tony Cragg: New Sculptures
Lisson Gallery, 2/F 27 Huqui Road
6 November 2021–15 January 2022

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.

Video installation showing four red panels 2.39 inch quad screens, screen drive module, and mini computer

Ding Shiwei, Screen Belief (2020). Video, 2.39 inch quad screens, screen drive module, mini computer, acrylic, customised power. 38 x 17 x 5 cm. Courtesy Gallery Vacancy.

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.

Minimalistic drawing in frame with protruding pieces in aluminium, lead, resin, stone powder, and acrylic

Shi Yong, Yi Shi (Consciousness) (2021). Aluminium, lead, resin, stone powder, toner, acrylic. 180 x 150 x12 cm. Courtesy ShanghART.

Shi Yong: Turning Inward, Until Disappearing
ShanghART, West Bund Building 10
7 November 2021–9 January 2022

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.

Large bronze sculpture showing small gate and tree on mountain painted bright blue

Nabuqi, Pet (Blue) (2021). Bronze, paint. 105 x 40 x 40 cm. Courtesy the artist and Edouard Malingue Gallery. Photo: Yang Xin.

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.

Cartoon-like painting showing coloured square in ink, crayon, watercolour, and acrylic on paper

Eddie Martinez, Untitled (2021). Ink, crayon, watercolour, and acrylic on paper. 32 x 45 cm. © Eddie Martinez. Courtesy the artist and Perrotin. Photo: JSP Studio.

Eddie Martinez: Fingers Pointing at the Moon
Perrotin, 3/F 27 Hu Qiu Road
5 November–25 December 2021

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.

Painting of large Ken doll head against purple backdrop oil on canvas.

Sun Yitian, Ken (2021). Oil on canvas. 65 x 55 cm. Courtesy Sun Yitian and BANK MABSOCIETY.

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.

Two polka dotted paintings in exhibition space, one large, one small blend of sand, modelling paste, and paint

Exhibition view: Vaughn Spann, Pups!, Almine Rech, Shanghai (22 October–27 November 2021). Courtesy Almine Rech.

Vaughn Spann: Pups!
Almine Rech, 27 Huqiu Road 2/F
22 October–27 November 2021

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.

Oil on canvas painting small ape-like boy sitting on woman's knee inside gallery

George Condo, The Picture Gallery (2002). Oil on canvas. 152.4 x 142.24 cm. © George Condo. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

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]

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