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[Art in August]: Dreamy Architecture, Reclaimed Wreckage, and Immersive Sound

Big shows from Junya Ishigami and Mark Bradford, plus the end of teamLab.
Aug 5, 2019 | 09:27 Mon
Photos: Brandon McGhee
It’s August. It’s hot outside. You should be in the air-conditioning, looking at reclaimed wreckage and listening to sound installations. Art!

This month there’s a raft of fanciful new exhibitions. Major museums are broadening out into other fields while smaller galleries go international. And, as ever, some big shows are closing.


Power Station of Art’s new exhibition brings together 19 projects by Japanese architect Junya Ishigami that send you into his vision. He is known for freeing himself from the general rules of the field — thus the name of the exhibition.

In a clear and calm color scheme, the projects are displayed in a maze with plans, sketches, and models. The sketches and drawings resemble art pieces. The models, created with different materials and even plants, resemble sculptures. Some of them are large, providing an insight into the actual dimension of the buildings.

In his projects, Ishigami removes the boundaries between external and interior spaces. In House & Restaurant, he used the ground to form the structure of a cave-like building. Although the result appears to be natural, the complexities of the project are shown in a time-lapse video, revealing the ingenuity of the architect.

Creating a dream space is an important element of his work. In Kids Park, Ishigami thinks from a child’s perspective, designing a playground in which animals are as tall as buildings. The animals in the model for this project are shaped with aluminum foil, as if made by actual children.

For this first show in China, everything has been redesigned specifically for the PSA. Try visiting during the week to avoid the crowds.


Los Angeles born-and-raised artist Mark Bradford shows at the Long Museum. The display explores present-day American culture, with special regard for the social and environmental conditions that affect marginalized populations.

Most of Bradford’s work is created by layering found materials and ephemera, such as posters, magazines, and billboard pieces. Upon entrance, visitors confront Mithra, a huge boat-shaped sculpture made of wooden panels from the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina. It mirrors Noah’s Ark in an allusion to the devastation and the lack of support provided to the majority of the population.

The display includes a new 12 meter-high “Waterfall” made of hundreds of colorful painted strips hanging from the ceiling, created especially for this exhibition.

The installations are surrounded by Bradford’s latest series of paintings, which are equally impressive in size. These are abstract mixed media works, layered with paint, paper, and everyday materials on canvas, resulting in a textured and almost tactile surface. From afar, they resemble maps or aerial views of cities. You might notice L.A. in an aerial view, with its flat surface, square blocks, and gleaming lights. These works are intimately related to the city's history of social and racial discrimination.

Bradford is one of the most influential living American artists. His work is fierce, robust, and full of meaning. This is a raw exhibition, without the usual crowd-pleasing elements, appealing solely because of the weight of art. Making it a free show is a pleasant surprise, you have to reserve in advance.


In this small and intricate exhibition, OCAT gathers five Norwegian artists working in film, audio, and computer-based technologies. Their viewpoints converge in the exploration of dreams, subconsciousness, and memories. Time and sound are the conducting elements, drawing the viewer in.

The stretch of time can be felt at the first piece of room A, a 16-meter wide and 74-centimeter high video projection by A. K. Dolven, in which a young woman wriggles slowly from left to right amid a long line of resting bodies. In an installation by Ignas Krunglevičius, a long corridor made of steel walls and equipped with transducers emanates the metallic sound of single words in both English and Chinese.

In Room B, a nearly pitch-dark soundscaping environment created by Jana Winderen, hidden speakers emit the mournful sounds of marine life and the sounds generated by industrial activities at sea, all recorded by the artist. The juxtaposition raises a haunting query: are these the sounds of species that we are extinguishing?

Seven installations occupy the entire gallery. Five of them have sound, but the display is arranged so that they don’t interfere with one another. Even though the visuals are interesting, the prime element of the exhibition is sound — an immaterial and invisible art form that provokes instant emotion.


For the second time in Shanghai, Condo promotes relationships between galleries and artists from ten world cities. In a series of collaborative exhibitions, local galleries host foreign galleries, either co-curating shows or sharing their spaces. Here are just two of the highlights:

In the main room of A+Contemporary you’ll see The Sleeper, a video installation by Shanghai-based artist Chen Wei, in which a flat screen on the floor shows a woman sleeping. Her body seems motionless, but the viewer will notice her minimal breathing. She also switches positions occasionally, but you will miss it if you walk away quickly. The idea for this piece came from observing his family members sleeping.

In collaboration with a Mexican, a British, and a Japanese gallery, AIKE’s show is more humorous and even cynical. The 32 small ink on paper works by Colombian artist Ricardo Muñoz Izquierdo are colorful and surreal narratives of violence, death, and religion. The heavy themes are counterbalanced by the works of Japanese Ken Kagami, who transforms modern routine into a joke. Several of his pieces were combined, forming a two-dimensional living room, as if drawn by a child with a box of crayons.

This edition of Condo takes place in seven Shanghai galleries, involving 14 international galleries and 51 artists. International galleries come from Tokyo, Seoul, Jakarta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, London, New York, Guatemala City, Lima, and Mexico City. It’s a rare chance for Shanghai’s audience to see the works of many young or mid-career artists from across the globe.

While in the area:


While at M50, pass by the Yibo Gallery, where Liang Haopeng’s Future Mythology provides the visitor with “God’s perspective” of the world, full of disillusionment and disaster. His work echoes the Medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch in surrealism and detail. Zhang Zhaoying’s Historical Theater recreates Renaissance and Baroque scenes while adding bizarre futuristic elements.

Closing Soon:


This is the last month to immerse yourself in the monumental art installation by the experimental Japanese collective teamLab. Universe of Water Particles is an enormous digital waterfall cascading down the interior of a 15-meter high tank. The installation was designed to react to body presence as if people were obstructing the flow of water.

teamLab is composed of self-described "ultra-technologists": experts in programming, engineering, and mathematics. They are pioneers in experimenting with digital art. Installations often take place in unusual locations, like a Japanese forest or the fountains of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

The five oil tanks of TANK Shanghai were previously used to store the fuel for a nearby airport, a fact that fascinated Toshiyuki Inoko, founder of teamLab, who saw their shift in use from fuel to digital as a symbol of the speed of human evolution.

Standing beneath a waterfall surrounded by blowing petals may sound tacky, but what’s compelling about this installation is its technological achievement for the sake of art.


Japanese artist Izumi Kato’s captivating display at Perrotin Gallery showcases his simplistic and child-like painting, sculpture, and fabric installations, depicting ambiguous and unusually shaped characters. If you're in the area it's worth a visit.


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