Political or physical, literal or metaphorical, 'landscape' can mean all sorts of things and that's precisely what Shanghainese artist Shen Fan wants us to consider at his solo, just opened over at ShanghART H-Space. The three series on display transform the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly curves of the Shanghai Stock Exchange into undulating, jagged or dense landscapes, taking dry, plotted data and imbuing it with all sorts of possibilities. Take the monochrome, black and white paintings: it's thick in those slicks of smeared oils where the real, human stories behind financial crashes and booms lie. Next to that is a forest of concrete and steel objects -- dense and difficult to navigate, it's a lot more complex than the graphs, charts and lines on which it's based would have us believe. All in all, the show offers an unusual perspective on China today, its myriad and varied landscapes, and the humanity that shapes all of that. Go see.
Here's what you need to know about Something in Common over at ifa: it features the work of eight contemporary artists from Asia, working towards a shared theme across a full range of media. Of course, there's rather more to say than that, but curator Zane Mellupe is leaving the door wide open on this one: no gallery blurb, no poster design, and, best of all, no artspeak-riddled press release. Instead, Canadian art educator Sheila Greenspan has put together a list of helpful hints on contemporary art appreciation: common sense stuff that too often gets overshadowed by that aforementioned blurb. In terms of the art, our favorites are from an all-new and refreshingly simple series by Chinese artist célèbre, Liu Bolin. Best known for those 'disappearing' photos, these new works are altogether more elusive. Upstairs, Zheng Jing's calmly confusing installation offers a tranquil -- and beautiful -- end to proceedings, making ingenious use of smoke and light.
Over to leafy Fuxing Lu now where What Why How just opened at Leo Xu Projects, featuring four new works by young Hangzhou-based video artist Cheng Ran. Downstairs is all low lighting, large screens and surround sound -- an apt setting for the show's main piece, "1971 – 2000". At first watch, it looks -- and sounds -- like a cheesy music video but pay attention and some familiar cinematic motifs come together to interesting effect, with A Clockwork Orange's Alex DeLarge hurling himself off The Million Dollar Hotel. Elsewhere, the artist takes inspiration from another modern master in "Angels for the Millennium", a parody of Bill Viola's seminal "Five Angels for the Millennium": filmed upside down, the slow footage of a drowning man feels like a timelessness between life and death... It's strangely beautiful, and interesting to see a young artist toy with a young medium in this way, remaking film classics for China's here and now, all the while creating something undeniably new. Absorbing and unsettling, it's well worth a look.
Sticking with new media for now, Across the Waibaidu has been open at island6 Arts Center for a little while already, and well worth a look if it's fun, interactive pieces you're after. An extension of last year's Goddamned Shanghai show, this one seeks to envision the 1930s, 40s and 50s from a Chinese perspective. Featuring lots of those signature LED works for which the collective are best known, they're set alongside stories and imagined memories of the time. Honestly, we could've done with less text: the artworks alone are fantastical enough to unleash any number of narratives you'd care to dream... As with the collective's previous work, these newer pieces meld traditional Chinese crafts with altogether newer technology -- be sure to check out the street corner papercut, complete with a LED tightrope-walker wobbling along criss-crossing tramlines. Similarly, mirrors and screens printed with scenes of China of yore came about by tirelessly sifting through kilo upon kilo of old negatives, sourced from a Shanghai flea market. It's good stuff indeed.
All ongoing and upcoming art exhibitions in Shanghai here.