Cai Guo Qiang
1. Peasant Cai Guo Qiang / Da Vincis at Rockbund Art Museum
4 May – 25 June
Cai Guo Qiang plays spectacularly with originality, freedom and ingenuity in the newly opened Rockbund Art Museum in the former Royal Asiatic Society building near Shanghai’s Bund. Particularly bewitching are his kite-projections memorializing the fatal first flight of a ‘peasant’ aeronautical engineer.
Xu Zhen, Comfortable, at Minsheng Art Museum
2. Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art 1979-1909 at Minsheng Art Museum
Curated by Zhou Tiehai
18 April – 18 July
A culture of criticality is one of the most pressing problems in contemporary Chinese art. Another is historical contextualization, not least because many of the best works are not in China and therefore are not easily accessed. Zhou Tiehai, one of the leaders of China’s avant garde since the 90s and director of the Minsheng Art Museum, attempts to address these problems with an epic survey of the past 30 years.
3. Isaac Julien – Ten Thousand Waves at ShanghART
21 May – 20 June
British artist, Isaac Julien has been coming to China for some years. His multi-channel video installation is essentially a dialogue with his friend, the artist Yang Fudong, who appears in the film as ‘the lover’. Julien is bewitchingly playful with clichés, a bit like Yang Fudong really.
Installation view, Contrasts Gallery
4. Mind Space, Maximalism at Contrasts Gallery
Zhu Jinshi, Zhang Yu, Lei Hong, He Xiangyu
Curated by Gao Minglu
30 April – 16 June
Chinese star-curator, Gao Minglu, conjours up an ink and paper show, a specialty of Contrasts Gallery, based on the Chinese theory of ‘Maximalism’, whereby artists “consider their work to be incomplete and fragmented records of daily meditation”, eschewing compositional principles, it tends to be “natural, repetitious and fragmentary”. In the case of He Xiangyu, this means rendering coca cola to create Chinese garden scholar-stones and ink for traditional painting to imbue “the process of mass reproduction with the spiritual quality of self-meditation.” I’m not convinced by this suggestion but the coke sure does make interesting looking art.
5. Roxy Paine: Machinations at James Cohan Gallery
24 April – 13 June
Roxy Paine’s first solo-show in China introduces his SCUMAK auto-paint-sculpture and dipping-machine paintings, going by some of the press, to an unready Shanghai. Paine’s art is one of systems and transformation. Ultimately the objects are the easy entry point to confounding environments.
6. Re-visioning History at OV Gallery
Zhang Dali, Ren Hong, Alexandrine Deve, Ben Houge, Ji Wenyu, Monika Lin, Qian Rong, Robert Davis, Su Chang
22 May – 17 July
Catch it, if it re-opens. Notwithstanding Zhang Dali’s entire ‘Second History’ series has already been shown to much acclaim at the Guangdong Museum, a state institution, this group show was closed a few days after opening. It seems it was just too interesting and international, the last thing one would want during a World Expo.
7. The Pavillion of Realism at Other Gallery
Curators: Raul Zamundio, Maarten Bertheux (Amsterdam), Zhu Zi (Beijing)
23 April – 1 June
Following up on an intriguing opening show heavy on Jewish feminist angst, this group show is more lyrical and playful. Gordon Cheung’s ‘Top Ten Billionaires’, introduces the British post-theory painter to his Chinese roots, his queasy colours on newsprint stock-listings from the Financial Times. Noteworthy also are Ni Haifeng’s videos ‘The Face” and ‘HS Code 640399′ and language syntax works by Christopher K. Ho and also Huang Xiaopeng. [author declaration: I own several Cheung works].
Ai Wei Wei
8. Ai Wei Wei and Zhang Pei Li at 140sqm Gallery
22 April – 30 June
For a single work: Ai Wei Wei’s AI Weiwei “Sculpture Installation” (2006) – a marble version of his arm with raised finger, echoing his famous series of photographs wherein he gives the finger to numerous famous buildings with nationalist associations, such as the Eiffel Tower, the White House and the Tian An Men Gate in Beijing. The marble version includes his shoulder and enough of the head to keep the ear. The whole is then set on an old metal munitions case, which looks eerily like an old-fashioned museum plinth.
9. Abstract 6 / Rise of no revolt at Yongkang Lu Art
Light Wave Collective and Konstantin Bayer
5 – 25 June
One of the most interesting art spaces to have emerged in Shanghai in recent times, various locations on Yongkang Road have been taken over for varying art projects, including installations and conceptual experiments. This month collective of photographers takes traditional Chinese Shanshui painting as the basis for abstract photography, with works inspired by the city walls, plastic pollution, Chinese ink, soap bubbles, paper and clouds. Meanwhile German conceptualist Konstantine Bayer explores power vs ennui with installations, photography and ‘objects’.
10. The History of Etiquette at ifa Gallery
Li Ming, Li Qing, Shao Yi, Tong Yan, Ru’nan, Wang Xiaofeng, Wu Junyong and Zhang Liaoyuan
Curated by Darja Lin and Alexis Kouzmine Karavaïeff
10 April – 27 June
Recent graduates of the renowned Hangzhou Academy respond to the idea of compliance with and transgression of social restrictions. Shao Yi’s ‘plug in’, a black paint covered panel of switches gives pause.