suspended: frames that don’t frame

Ay, so much art stuff going on in Shanghai these days! Pearl Lam has a new exhibition up and it’s pretty neat. It’s a solo show by Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysal and his Suspended Series of Dali-esque ‘melted’ frames hung on the wall, on hooks, or on hangers is simply amazing.

Ornate gilded frames were once de rigueur for highbrow art, but you will very rarely see such an ostentatious frame on a contemporary piece. Uysal’s polyester works twist and warp these frames’ forms, robbing them of their rigidity. With no structure and no art to border, they hang there forlornly, taking on ‘object’ status and themselves becoming the works they were meant to enhance. Amazing.

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Mehmet Ali Uysal, Suspended Series, 2014

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Mehmet Ali Uysal, Suspended Series/Meat, 2014

Mehmet Ali Uysal: The Past
September 1 – November 15, 2014

Pearl Lam Galleries
pearllam.com
G/F, 181 Middle Jiangxi Road
Huangpu District, Shanghai
Monday to Sunday, 10:30 AM – 7 PM

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‘the equinox’ at moma (tbt)

From last summer at MoMA: seven sculptures grouped together in an installation called The Equinox by Swiss-born American artist Carol Bove. Technically The Equinox is an arrangement rather than an installation (id est, an exhibition rather than a work in itself). When I first walked into the room and saw it I was like … what am I looking at?  The sculptures aren’t impressive ‘wow’ kind of pieces, but there were a serene, beautiful kind of harmony. And I’m a sucker for modernism.

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Carol Bove, The Equinox (installation view and detail), 2013

the hypnotic power of strung-up rice

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Sayaka Ishizuka, Rice Deity, 2014

There’s some cool stuff from the Japanese artist Sayaka Ishizuka over at Pearl Lam Galleries in Shanghai. Unfortunately the exhibition is ending soon (August 15) … so I better post pictures now!

Her works use everyday things like grains of rice and chopsticks to create this supremely tranquil, almost spiritual feeling. The installation piece that is undoubtedly the focus of the exhibition, Rice Deity, is definitely worth noting, with strands of rice hanging from the ceiling. As you walk amidst these rice strings in the darkened space … it’s pretty darned hypnotic.

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Sayaka Ishizuka: Life Threads
May 12 – August 15, 2014

Pearl Lam Galleries
pearllam.com
G/F, 181 Middle Jiangxi Road
Huangpu District, Shanghai
Monday to Sunday, 10:30 AM – 7 PM

cafa art for the soul

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Life, it’s always getting in the way of things, eh? Here are more pictures from the CAFA show last month in Beijing! I gotta say, I was duly impressed. Not only were the students’ works amazing, but the museum itself was beautiful. White walls, good lighting, and high ceilings make my day any day!

i know that feeling (in sculpture form)

Wandering around the CAFA campus was great fun because there were a number of undergraduate student exhibitions scattered throughout. I stumbled upon the sculpture studio, and unfortunately the sculpture exhibition wouldn’t start until the week after, but I saw this piece and thought it was pretty great.

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I don’t know who the artist is since there was no label, but it’s pretty amazing, right? Part of me thinks it’s a self-portrait, but even if it’s not a direct self-portrait, I think all students, architects, and the like can sympathize. For my part, I’ve definitely fallen asleep in similarly awkward positions at my drafting table.

museum myth – the new yuz museum

Yet another museum has popped up in China! Because the only thing that China needs (besides more people or more pollution) is more museums! Because museums equal culture! The Yuz Museum opened a few weeks back on May 18, which oh so coincidentally is International Museum Day. Its inaugural exhibition Myth/History: Yuz Collection of Contemporary Art  is a behemoth, by which I mean: holy crap those are giant installations.

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Zhang Huan, Buddha Hand, 2006
Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Freedom, 2009
Madein Company, Calm, 2009
Adel Abdessemed, Telle mere tel fils, 2008

The museum is located in the West Bund area, which is … kind of in the middle of no where. It’s fairly removed from the city, it’s a bit of a trek from the subway station, it was hard to find a taxi in the area, and I didn’t see anywhere to eat in my short wander. But what the area does have is space. Longhua Airport used to dominate the area, so the Yuz Museum is actually housed in a former aircraft hangar – hence the beautiful trussed ceiling and large main exhibition space.

It seems like people are throwing money into the West Bund, hoping to transform it into a lucrative cultural area (with an emphasis on the ‘lucrative’). I’m not so sure the culture part will really come through. Last year there was the West Bund Biennale and earlier this year the Long Museum Puxi opened not too far from where the Yuz is, but plopping museums down doesn’t create culture, especially since the Yuz and Long Museums are cut from the same a-little-too-expensively-tailored cloth – they’re museums that are essentially the private collections of filthy rich people. Not really into public programs, high admission fees, and oh, they’re chain museums too. There’s an existing Yuz Museum in Jakarta, Indonesia, and there’s an existing Long Museum in Pudong … also in Shanghai.

The Myth/History exhibition is good, and I do recommend it. It’s interesting for having so many big names all in one museum. It’s like someone bought a book on contemporary Chinese art and made an exhibit from the artists listed. The highlights were definitely the installations in the Great Hall, which is understandable given the building’s layout, so the galleries along the perimeter edge felt a little like afterthoughts – albeit very well-stocked afterthoughts. The Yuz itself makes the list of good museums in Shanghai, but the West Bund area is really annoying to me. Eventually I’ll have to pluck up and make the long trip out again for the Long Museum Puxi, but … ugh.

Myth/History: Yuz Collection of Contemporary Art
May 18 – November 18, 2014

Yuz Museum
35 Fenggu Road, near Longteng Avenue
Xuhui District, Shanghai
Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Admission: 60 RMB

a dream i dreamed in the park

Today is March 29th, which means that tomorrow, MoCA’s exhibition will close. So of course I’m just now getting around to posting about the exhibition. ‘Cause I’m on top of things like that. The exhibition A Dream I Dreamed is a solo show by the really famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. And it was good. Lots of dots. Very playful. Though the 50 RMB ticket price seemed a bit steep and the waits were crazy, I definitely enjoyed myself … though would’ve had a better experience if there was more time and fewer people.

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With All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever

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Narcissus Garden

The roof/top floor balcony of the museum was a nice spot for a break from the hustle of the floors below and Narcissus Garden worked well up there. Since MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is located in People’s Park, there was a great view of the hazy Shanghai skyline and the surrounding park. This was easily one of my favorite moments of the exhibition because I love it when art interacts with architecture and the city, when there’s that sense of context and space. Plus, the stainless steel spheres are much more in line with my personal aesthetic.

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Obliteration Room

This room was like a nightmare for me. The exhibition started in December with Obliteration Room as a white space with white furnishings. Upon entering, you’re handed a sheet of stickers, which you can place anywhere. I like the interactive aspect of it, but I HATE STICKERS. Or rather I HATE (pressure-sensitive) ADHESIVE. If they’re firmly adhered and there’s no possibility that they would have to be removed later on or they’re loosely adhered to be easily removed (like drafting tape or price tags) – that’s fine. Stickers in that gray area of semi-permanence, that eventually start to peel up and leave that icky residue … ew ew ew.

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My Eternal Soul series

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Love Forever series

I felt that her flat works were much less successful. Strong use of color and line, but nowhere near as evocative as her more spatial works. These were just kind of eh and easily forgettable.

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Infinity Mirrored Room – Love Forever

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Dots Obsession

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Infinity Mirrored Room – Gleaming Lights of the Souls

Where Yayoi Kusama shines is in her installations. Color, light, and mirrors, oh my! Amazing. Very well thought out and constructed. My only complaint was having to queue up for so long for such a brief glimpse! It would be nice to go back and see some parts of the exhibition again (especially the Infinity Mirrored Rooms!), but the last days of an exhibition are always the worst and I really have no patience for some of these Chinese crowds. Factor in the cost and time as well, and I think I’ll have to pass. It was a very cool exhibition though, so if you haven’t had a chance to see it … make haste! I didn’t find it profound or awe-inspiring or anything lofty like that, it was just … fun. And sometimes that’s enough.

Kusama Yayoi: A Dream I Dreamed
December 15th, 2013 – March 30th, 2014

MOCA Shanghai
mocashanghai.org
People’s Park, 231 Nanjing West Road, Shanghai
Sunday to Thursday, 10 AM – 6 PM
Friday to Saturday, 9 AM – 7 PM

bharti kher at the rockbund

Hm. I’m been quite neglectful with my posts about art, so here’s a bit about the art scene in Shanghai. The Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) is a stone’s throw from the gallery I work at, so I’ve been there quite a few times over the last few months. The current show is Bharti Kher: Misdemeanours, which will run until March 30th April 20th [exhibition extended]. And it’s pretty amazing.

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The Skin Speaks a Language Not Its Own, 2006

Bharti Kher is an English-born Indian artist (working mostly in sculpture), and although I’d never seen her stuff or heard of her before, I found the exhibition quite dramatic and thought-provoking. The highlight is most definitely the giant elephant, which is super nifty. I mean, it’s a giant elephant, how could it not be amazing? And on top of that, it’s covered in bindis … sperm-shaped bindis. A lot of her work refers to the female, nature, mythology, globalization, and so on, so bindis feature prominently in many of her works, as do maps, animals, and goddesses. Some very nice stuff, some kinda weird.

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What Can I Tell You That You Don’t Know Already?, 2013

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The Hot Wind that Blows from the West, 2011

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost, 2009-2010

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The Butcher, The Baker, the Candlestick Maker, 2008

My personal tastes tend to the clean, clear, and conceptual, so I especially liked the radiators (from New York!) and bricks (made from melted glass bangles). There were some maps covered in bindis near the revolving globes which were really cool, but I couldn’t get any good pictures due to the reflectiveness of the glass. But … there was one floor of photography and sculptures that was just … a bit disturbing.

This is Bharti Kher’s first solo exhibition in China, and it covers the entire six floors of the RAM. If you happen to use the subway in Shanghai, then you probably already know about it because there are billboards for it all over the stations. I’ve visited the exhibition three times, once for the opening, once for a talk, and once for a tour. The show runs for about another month, so if you’re in Shanghai, you should definitely go visit. Because it’s nifty. The Rockbund isn’t free, but it’s a drop in the bucket for what the exhibition is.

[Note: Some press material refers to the exhibition as Misdemeanors instead of the British spelling, but the catalogue uses Misdemeanours … so I’m including that extra letter, as annoying as it is.]

Bharti Kher: Misdemeanours
January 11th – March 30th April 20th, 2014

Rockbund Art Museum
rockbundartmuseum.org
20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai
Tuesdays to Sundays, 10 AM – 6 PM

paley on park (ave)

One of the things I’ll miss about New York is the art. The art that’s EVERYWHERE. There are galleries and museums all over the place, and it’s easy enough to wander from one to the next. In Shanghai? Not so easy. And not as great.

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Park Avenue has this thing where they display sculptures spanning a number of blocks. Last summer I posted about a series of sculptures by Rafael Barrios along Park Avenue, so I felt like I had to post something about the new sculptures by Albert Paley that are now up there. There’s a lucky total of 13 of them metal things, all abstract and twisty and industrial. They kind of look like some projects I did in architecture undergrad out of bristol board. Anyhow, they’re supposed to be up until November.

They varied in color and complexity, and some were definitely more successful than others (the horizontal white one was definitely one of the better ones). Due to their placement you never see more than one sculpture at a time, which is necessary … because these kinds of sculptures stand alone.

New York doesn’t really need sculptures on Park Avenue, but I love the fact that they’re there. That people actually fund public artwork, especially in a city like New York, where it’s so dense and your tiny crumbling little apartment costs more than half your salary and the subway is a smelly, trash-strewn, rat-infested slice of hell … that there are places like Central Park and the NYPL and Grand Central and there are sculptures and mosaics and murals everywhere … that makes me smile and remember why New York is one of the best cities in the world.

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