Contemporary art grows in Shanghai.
Not to be outdone by Beijing’s burgeoning 798 Arts District, the artists of Shanghai have responded with their own neighborhood of studios, living spaces and galleries. It’s a very cool scene that I’m glad I happened upon just in the nick of time. Unfortunately I didn’t get word on the area until the night before I was leaving Shanghai, so once again, I was looking for art on a Monday and worse yet, it was an early, rainy Monday. Nonetheless, I was able to scout it out, snap a few shots and make a plan for next year’s trip. Given the pace of this crazy town, it will no doubt double in size by then.
I was able to meet up with one interesting artist, working away in his studio/gallery. I walked into Fang Min’s workspace, filled with his eery portraits and caught him in the act of pressing a canvas for his next piece on an old ironing board. I’m sure there was an important reason for this but between his English, my Chinese and my looming departure deadline, I was unable to find out what it was. I suspect it’s an important first step because his paintings all have an antique faded finish to them, that, combined with his soft palette, seem to be coming at you from out of a dream – spooky.
Tolerance is the theme of his series and he writes in his exhibit book that they’re about a monk that learns to live with and appreciate the insects that would drive most people mad. He has searched long and hard for peace and has found it in his tolerance of creatures that he believes have as much right to life as he. While I didn’t vow to throw away my fly swatter, I was impressed with Fang’s dedication to this simple theme. He had at least 50 paintings lining the walls and stacked on the floor, that he was selling for $3,000 US each. I suspect that price will prove to be quite a deal in the not too distant future. I’ve included a few shots in this post that don’t begin to do the paintings justice. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a website.
Other than Fang’s place, there really wasn’t much open, just a couple of cool little home stores, and coffee shops. So, I spent an hour or so just snooping around and taking shots of exteriors and signs. I’ve included a few. I can’t wait to get back there to file a full report and to see who the next big thing on the Shanghai contemporary art scene might be.