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First Look: Fotografiska Opens With 4 Inaugural Exhibitions

On October 21, the first Fotografiska in Asia opened by Suzhou Creek.
2023-10-30 12:00:00

In the ever-dynamic cultural theatre of Shanghai, Fotografiska's prolonged two-year overture seems almost Shakespearean. This photography museum and cultural nexus from Stockholm stands as a vivid testament to the compelling power of visual tales. Earning its accolades on the international stage, Fotografiska's debut in Shanghai was, dare we say in our humble opinions, spot-on.

And so, on October 21, the curtains rose. Fotografiska unveiled its first Asian masterpiece beside Suzhou Creek (which is increasingly becoming timeless). The government projects to revamp the area have paid off well, and this is yet another project to evelvate this area. Maybe we can even start calling Suzhou Creek a prime location? Absolutely. This monumental relic from 1931, once the Guang San Warehouse, stretches across a sprawling 4,600 square meters. The riverfront view alone is a feast for the senses, and that's before you've even walked in. Our visit? A sun-drenched afternoon so crisp you could snap it.

Inside, the building's unembellished walls and patina-rich warehouse doors speak a language of their own. Isn't it ironic how we simultaneously crave and shy away from visual overload?

Gracing this grand three-story canvas, Fotografiska premieres with four inaugural exhibitions, spotlighting talents such as Feng Li, Edward Burtynsky, Fan Xi, and Samson Young.

Feng Li: White Nights in Wonderland

The crown jewel of the exhibitions, in this critic's estimation, is found in the captivating lens work of Chengdu's own, Feng Li. His anthology, "White Nights in Wonderland", boasts close to 200 photographs, deeply rooted in societal landscapes, yet masterfully skirting the realms of the surreal.

It's hardly a stretch when you learn Feng has collaborated with fashion luminaries like British Vogue. Case in point: a human silhouette festooned with balloons. Ah, the quirks of haute couture!

Venture deeper and the exhibition morphs. From a jubilant riot of colors, you're ushered behind the curtain into a realm of captivating somberness, punctuated by a restrained gray hue and an eclectic curation of images. A nod, perhaps, to art curator Holly Roussell, a beacon in contemporary photography and Asian artistry.

Navigating through Feng's works is akin to an enthralling treasure hunt.

"At the press preview, Feng said, "To be chosen to hold an exhibition here, I know I am just lucky to catch on an express train," a humble nod to the rarity of such an honor. Indeed, championing local artisans and photographers remains at the heart of Fotografiska's ethos as they chart new territories. We await, with bated breath, their next discovery.

Edward Burtynsky: Abstraction and the Altered Landscape

Edward Burtynsky's "Abstraction and the Altered Landscape" offers an elevated perspective—quite literally—one that transcends the commonplace gaze.

This Canadian maestro, equipped with drones, fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters, captures vistas that ground-dwellers like us might overlook.

Consider a particular photograph: from afar, it mimics the growth rings of an ancient tree. Draw nearer, and it morphs into the vast aquifer of Ogallala in Texas, USA.

Burtynsky adeptly "eliminates the horizon line of a landscape to heighten abstraction." A choice perhaps lost on the average gallery-goer, but there's no disputing this: in the world of abstracts, his lines harmoniously dance with the terrains they depict.

Fan Xi: Simulation Play

Emerging artist Fan Xi demonstrates that Fotografiska's palette extends beyond mere photography. She navigates varied visual domains. Photographs under her touch evolve into detailed sculptures, while 3D artifacts take on new life as surreal collages and prints.

Samson Young: Variation of 96 Chords in Space

Artist Samson Young orchestrates a symphony of light, color, and sound in this evocative space. While it lends itself effortlessly to the Instagram lens – perhaps an inadvertent nod by the artist.

Very instagrammable. And, perhaps unintended by the artist, his art is speckled with the vibes of James Turrell.


In Shanghai, Fotografiska is set on making a definitive statement. Through its inaugural exhibitions, it's clear they are seeking not just to display art but to underscore their unwavering commitment to diversity and its foundational values. Here's to Shanghai's homegrown talents seizing this stage, propelling themselves into broader acclaim.

Now here are some interesting trivia and tips for visiting:

  • Fotografiska is open from Tuesday to Sunday every week, staying lit until 11 pm!
  • Exhibitions rotate every 3 or 4 months, so there's always a fresh palette with each season.
  • On the 1st floor, you'll find a shop serving ice cream and soft drinks. The 4th floor boasts a lounge for those with a discerning palate, complete with rooftop views and the chance to bask in sunlight (or moonlight, or perhaps the embrace of gloomy clouds).
  • Entry is priced at 120 RMB—a reasonable tag for access to 4 exhibitions and an undeniably chic venue. Students and children (over 1.2 meters) can secure passes for 80 RMB, available on Fotografiska's official WeChat mini program.
  • The location is anything but isolated. Right beside the gallery stands a Louis Vuitton pop-up, offering both a dining experience and a curated bookstore. Their shelves feature city guides from major urban hubs worldwide. A short stroll away lies the Sihang Warehouse (四行仓库). One of its walls, pockmarked with bullet holes, stands as a silent testament to the fierce battles of WW2. Today, it beckons tourists from near and far.


Fotografiska is at 127 Guangfu Lu, near Jinyuan Lu. Full listing here.