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[Art in July]: Animal Operas, Excavation Sites from the Future, and Much More

Daniel Arsham, Tan Ping, Giovanni Ozzola and Yang Fudong all show.
Jul 2, 2019 | 10:08 Tue
Photos: Jin Qian
Shanghai’s arts season is heating up. In July the major art institutions in town are offering us an abundance of exhibits to help take our minds off the rain and garbage sorting, with high-profile artist-filmmakers, a Hong Kong art center takeover, a new international gallery opening, and multiple photography exhibitions. Here are some of the biggest art shows on view now.

"Architecture is too rigid" believes artist Daniel Arsham. So he ties a large knot between walls and erodes them from the center. Arsham comes from an architectural design background, and just launched his first solo exhibition in China, which is also his largest exhibition anywhere to date. The centerpiece of the show is a big excavation site from the year 3019 where a group of “archaeologists” will be working on site and in their "lab" until the exhibition ends in October.

Here, familiar daily objects and pop culture products became “future relics” —— the exhibition shares a similar theme with HOW’s previous Quayola solo show, as the artist tries to reinvent the modern world and confuse the viewers by manipulating timelines, materials, and visual perspectives. Arsham is colorblind, and his artworks are mainly monochrome. The key color of the exhibition: a mint-ish green, is actually the color you would see from the side of clear glass. Again, playing with perspectives.

“Perpetual Present” ends with the display of some of Arsham’s sketchbooks, magazine features, and collages of his self-portraits and photos he took with various pop icons. At HOW’s gift shop on the third floor, there’s also a wide selection of merch, from the “excavation site” and from brand collaborations for sneakers and baseball caps. “Perpetual Present” is likely going to be one of the hottest exhibitions of the year (120rmb), visiting at night is recommended.

After turning the museum entrance into a butcher shop, RAM is doing something bizarre with animals again (50rmb). This time, it’s a collaboration with Hong Kong’s contemporary art center Para Site. As the curator of this project, Para Site’s Executive Director Cosmin Costinas highlights work from a big group of artists with various backgrounds (teachers, filmmakers, choreographers, activists and so on), and divided the museum space along multiple themes that explore anthrozoology, colonization, new technology, and many more.

It’s like walking into an adventure fantasy film: a blend of primitive, tribal objects, and algorithmic, avant-garde new media art fit into one giant pink box. Musicians dressed up as fruits perform with a white horse; groups of Krump dancers battle to operatic music... You’ll also get to have a taste of Costinas’ obsession with indigenous textiles. An Opera for Animals features a few long videos and makes good use of the space. It might take you a couple of hours to go through most of the exhibits piece by piece.

Don’t forget to check out Perrotin’s new exhibition at the "Amber Building" across the street: geometric sculptures from Xavier Veilhan and fetal-like figures painted by Izumi Kato are on display until August 17. On July 12, the building will open a new international gallery: a 4,000 sqm Almine Rech Gallery, with the debut show curated by Nicolas Trembley.

A bit challenging to work at this exhibition (60rmb): Tan Ping’s retrospective opens with “A Line”, which is literally a single white line on the wall, accompanied by the sound of wood carving playing non-stop. ”A Line” is a re-work of his “+40m” (2012) —— the artist once spent six hours carving a single line with a chisel at the National Art Museum of China, all in one go. It was childlike act at an authoritative institution.

In the Chinese art world, Tan is more or less an authoritative figure himself. After graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1984, he worked as a dean and vice president of the school and is currently the Vice President of Chinese National Academy of Arts. The retrospective charts his 30-year career with a mix of oil paintings, woodcut prints, video works and interviews clips. Most of the works displayed here are composed of color blocks, dots, and brushstrokes. Viewers also get to see the meditative process of creating them. Above one of his paintings, Tan Ping stated: “I am not an abstract artist”. Is he not, though? You can find out yourself.

Fosun Foundation’s latest exhibition takes a much more obscure and experimental route after their massively popular Yayoi Kusama feast. Italian artist Giovanni Ozzola‘s “If I Had to Explain, You Wouldn’t Understand” displays a mixture of mediums that play with light and darkness, and demonstrate the artificial marks humans left and abandoned in the natural landscape. The exhibition features a total of 11 artworks from Ozzola. Though the topics are broad, they might still not be enough for viewers to get a thorough understanding of the artist’s stream of consciousness.

Yang Fudong's eight-channel video installation “Push the Door Softly and Walk in, Or Just Stay Standing Where You Are” (2013) is a combination of black and white stills and footage shot at Sharjah, originally commissioned by the Sharjah Art Foundation. The videos share the common subject “courtyard”, a place that’s both public and private in Arabic culture.

This dual solo exhibition is definitely not for the mass market, which makes it much more enjoyable for the lack of crowds. 80rmb to get in.

Other highlights:

Three photography exhibitions currently ongoing: Summer of Love, SCoP’s latest exhibition (40rmb) spotlights four projects from Liu Heung Shing, Maleonn, Olivia Martin-McGuire, and Coca Dai, on the theme of love, in China. There are pictures of public courtships in the late 70s, behind the scenes photos of the wedding industry, and unrefined works that document a woman’s pregnancy. Some really artificial, some really intimate.

Photography enthusiasts might also want to swing by Magnum’s touring project HOME (ends on July 3), a free exhibition that gathers works from 16 photographers with a personal touch. In addition Hélène Binet: Dialoghi, Works from 1988 to 2018, ends on July 12. The French-Swiss photographer’s works center around historical and contemporary architecture from Atlanta to Suzhou.

Also, check out some of the major art shows happening around town: Tatsuo Miyajima, Xue Song, and "Sensory Canvas”.

Ending soon:

July is the last month to catch The Challenging Souls: Yves Klein, Lee Ufan, Ding Yi at the Power Station of Art and the gorgeous Mucha exhibition at the Pearl Art Museum. Powerlong Museum’s immersive art show Dunhuang 1650 as well as Long Museum’s Xue Song: Phoenix Art from the Ashes will both end on July 14. For more major art exhibitions happening in Shanghai, have a look at SmartShanghai’s art calendar to stay up to date.


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