Top Galleries in Town at SHContemporary
Source:Smartshanghai Author:Smartshanghai Date: 2007-09-30 Size:
In the 'Best of Artists' section in the Main Hall of the Shanghai Art Fair International Contemporary Art Exhibition is a construction instillation piece by Argentine/Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. The construction is a large plexiglass box, about four meters by six meters in size, filled about h

In the 'Best of Artists' section in the Main Hall of the Shanghai Art Fair International Contemporary Art Exhibition is a construction instillation piece by Argentine/Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. The construction is a large plexiglass box, about four meters by six meters in size, filled about halfway with grade A jasmine rice. Partially concealed by the rice is a large canvas hanging at the back of the box. On the front side of the box is affixed a small spout and visitors are invited over the course of the exhibition to release the rice from the box to reveal the canvas at the back. Although at the moment you can only see the top half of the word 'Rich,' a quick glance to the title of the work implies the message that will eventually be revealed: "Beware Rich Bastards."

And it was for the rich bastards that the SHContemporary 2007 Art Fair at the Shanghai Exhibition Center opened its doors for yesterday night, reserving for their perusing and purchasing pleasure two full days of VIP-only access. Descended upon Shanghai are the most internationally-renowned and cutting-edge edge galleries from the booming art centres of New York, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Zurich, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Beijing, wheeling and dealing and hawking their wares for Shanghai private collectors and speculators. It's a massive and overwhelming affair. Fifty western and fifty Asian galleries have been selected to take part in the exhibition, and on both sides big names in contemporary art are represented: Crousel in Paris, Tilton Gallery in New York, Bodhi Art in New Dehli, Albion in London, 10 Chancery Lane in Hong Kong, Max Protetch of New York, Navarra in Paris, de Noirmont in Paris, Hilger in Vienna and Alexander Ochs/White Space of Berlin/Beijing.

Shanghai is represented centrally by ShanghART, who feature Wang Guangyi's "Aesthetics of Cold War" in the 'Best of Artist' section. The work is a series of ten paintings with Cold War themes under a coat of red, on which my friend commented, “Cold War? Still?” Shanghai galleries also include DDM Warehouse, Aura Gallery, Red Bridge, Shanghai Yibo and Shine Art Space. Overall, Shanghai's representatives are rather muted in comparison to their slick and modish Asian counterparts in Seoul, Tokyo and, of course, Beijing. This can be interpreted as an indication of the oft-mentioned "sensual and personal focus" of the Shanghainese art scene or that Shanghai galleries still have a ways to develop in terms of international bombast marketing.

The exhibition is open to the public on September 8 and 9, from 10am to 6pm. Due to the overwhelming abundance of contemporary works on display from artists around the world, the SHContemporary is a must-see, even if you're not looking to hang a new nine gazillion rmb Zhang Xiaogang on your wall. Despite its massive size, the exhibition as a whole is surprisingly accessible, with digital and abstract art taking a backseat to contemporary figurative painting. There are, of course, the gimmicky conceptual highlights which are always memorable: the suspended cow, the apartment covered in mud, the steel baby carriage covered in spikes and blades, but the subtle innovations from far away galleries are also in abundance. Despite the directly commercial orientation of the event, wandering through the corridors of the Shanghai Exhibition Hall during this exhibition is a provocative and rewarding experience, and not just for the rich bastards, but for all the poor contemporary art enthusiasts.

[Editor] Zhang Shuo

    Artintern