Shanghai Lowdown: Best Exhibitions to See 2022
Wu Ziyang, Pasig River 2030 – 6 Plus (2022) (still) (detail). Digital video, colour, sound. 8 min, 30 sec. Commissioned by UCCA Center for Contemporary Art. Courtesy the artist.
As the once-lively Shanghai prepares to welcome Art021 and West Bund Art & Design (10–13 November 2022), Ocula Magazine shares notable exhibitions taking place across the city's museums and galleries.
Behind an antique window frame, the sun sets over Karamay in Xinjiang, northern China, where the alleged replication of Anish Kapoor's Chicago-based public sculpture Cloud Gate (2006) incited heated debates on forgery and authorship in 2015.
In Qing's painting, three figures in traditional Uyghur costumes dance in front of the blue oval form. Behind them, a scatter of oil rigs reiterates the regional inspiration cited by artists commissioned to produce the work—modelled not after Cloud Gate, but oil bubbles.
Opening the scene for Li Qing's new exhibition Outline, the poignant Kapoor in Karamay (2022) sheds light on the frameworks that have become the default when viewing art. Notably, that which congregates under the authority of the Western gaze.
British sculptor Richard Deacon's recent nature-inspired creations appear to have cast the fluctuations of ocean waves into mineral blocks of enticing emerald and granite shades.
Mirroring cycles of life and decay, the 1987 Turner Prize winner's ongoing experimentations with diverse materials from laminated wood to polycarbonate, vinyl, cloth, and clay, seek to express new beginnings through material change.
At Lisson Gallery, rippling surfaces coated with glaze shimmer beside three stainless-steel sculptures titled At Sea... (2022). Together, they draw parallels between the act of sculpture and navigating the vastness of the ocean, whereby the resulting work marks an arrival.
Lee Bae adopted raw charcoal as his primary material upon moving to Paris in 1990. The artist experimented with the material for over a decade, while reflecting on its connotations of spiritual cleansing in Korean culture through the burning of pine wood.
To express the material's essence, Lee's monochromatic canvases follow an intuitive painting process, often resulting in rich textures—at times embedded with chunks and shards—and broken and swerving lines delivered with a controlled hand.
Lee's 'Brushstroke' series (2020) at Perrotin Shanghai expand this material expression across rhythmic strokes that mirror the cadence of thought and breath, rendered from a blend of charcoal powder made of willow, pine, grapevine, and oak.
For his first solo exhibition in Asia, Mevlana Lipp recreates an Eden after dark where mystical botanical-plant reliefs recall the purple-and-green hues from the mythological universe of Hulu Wa (Gourd Brothers), an 1980s animation originating from Shanghai.
Mystical fauna and flora-inspired beings are depicted with sandy textures, translucent hues, and titles such as Shimmer (2022) to replicate sensory experiences that visualise human affect.
Jolting the memory to our primordial relationship to nature, the near-transluscent, green-toned flower in Genesis (2022) opens its petals to reveal a purple stream reaching into a black ground.
Art of Craft
Power Station of Art, 200 Hua Yuan Gang Road
5 November 2022–5 February 2023
Inquiring into the value of Chinese crafts today, two parallel exhibitions conceived as part of the 'Next Cultural Producer' programme, opens the medium's present relevance to public debate.
Curated by Lixing Feng and You Wu, Hill of the Madman inquires into the practice of craft outside the framework of productivity through the work of 11 artists, including Jai Yuan and Youyu Ni, who employ its mediums as ways of knowing and seeing.
Back to the Future: Breaking the Time Barrier connects traditional craft to contemporary modes of production. Its rather optimistic outlook, conceived by Jin Zuo and Yanzhi Wang, highlights the practice as a way to generate 'friendly frameworks' of human cooperation and empathy.
Chronus Art Center, Bldg 18, 50 Moganshan Road
30 July 2022–6 February 2023
At Chronus Art Center, ten artists present new perspectives on synthetic bodies and artificial intelligence, reflecting the shifts in our understanding of bodies and biological processes prompted by biotechnology, when life forms can be generated using data, information, and code.
Arranged according to four chapters that reveal artworks along the way, the exhibition begins with the section 'Transcoding', which locates life within inorganic matter. Resin 3D-printed sculptures by Cao Shuyi here are modelled after living organisms, given a pedestal each.
Submerged inside a water tank, A Search for Ghosts in the Meat Machine (2018–2022) by Ani Liu follows, with side-by-side brain X-rays reflecting on the plasticity of consciousness and its replication via technology.
RAM Highlights 2022: The Good Life
Rockbund Art Museum, 1F, 20 Huqiu Road
29 September–20 November 2022
Questioning a timeless idea that can be traced to Aristotle and Ancient Greece, RAM's fifth annual programme gathers diverse perspectives across creative fields to reflect on the 'good life' as a guiding principle for achieving a satisfactory life today.
Including works by artists, musicians, writers, designers, dancers, and chefs from 16 additional localities beyond Shanghai, the exhibition doubles as an investigation into the museum space and its relationship to different communities during turbulent times.
One can expect interactive spaces that contest utilitarian thinking and individualist cultures, an inquiry into the power of sewing by NZTT Sewing Co-Op, and a video documenting street performances with homeless communities in Brazil by Jonathas de Andrade.
The Pieces I Am
UCCA Edge, 2F, No. 88 Xizang Bei Road
30 September 2022–8 January 2023
Reflecting on the fragmented existence of contemporary life where technology enables alternatives experiences of time and space, a group exhibition at UCCA Edge gathers 27 artists whose work employ or address the technological mediation of our daily experiences.
Dispersed within 'narrative environments' with titles like 'Liquid Life', 'City of Mist', and 'The Lunar Sea', artworks by Sun Yituan, Guo Cheng, Pascale Birchler, among others, are carefully positioned to amplify the concepts of their corresponding sections.
Embodying aquatic voyages or the fog of reality, notable works on view include Shao Chun's pond assemblage of electronic fabrics and common objects, Guo Cheng's divination site, and Ian Cheng's intelligent virtual creature that cycles through life and death.
The Voice of Things
West Bund Museum, 2599 Longteng Avenue
28 July 2021–5 February 2023
Following the inaugural exhibition of Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project, The Voice of Things traces the evolution of art within the Pompidou collection, from 20th-century perspectives like that of Picasso and Man Ray, to contemporary artists like Haegue Yang and Tatiana Trouvé.
From formal alterations to the first readymades, the Pompidou collection spans an expansive timeline that reflects perceptual shifts within our understanding of art and the world it seeks to capture; from the introduction of photographic mediums, to attempts to merge art and design, form and function.
Following World War I, the Pop art and the Fluxus movements equally attested to the social and cultural shifts brought on by industrialisation, while capturing the search for spirituality, leading to the 'individual mythologies' permeating contemporary art today. —[O]