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September 6, 2011

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Art comes to town

SHANGHAI is brimming with art this month at SH Contemporary, the Shanghai Art Fair and various exhibitions around town. Put on your sneakers and take a walk with Wang Jie.

Since its launch in 2007, SH Contemporary has sought to established itself as the best contemporary art fair in Asia, and it is at least one of the best.

But with the recent rise of ART HK in Hong Kong, SH Contemporary is challenged to retain its "elder brother" status in the Asia Pacific region as it runs from tomorrow through Saturday at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. It opens to the public on Thursday.

After Rudolf Lorenzo and Collin Chinnery, former Italian magazine editor Massimo Torrigiani takes the helm as fair director for this year's edition.

Presenting the best Asia and Asia Pacific contemporary art has always been the mission of SH Contemporary, though some observers note that aesthetic preference for realism still dominates the mainstream market in China. Auction sales are brisk, but old masters and modern masters of traditional Chinese painting and antiques fetch the highest prices.

The fair brings together the top Chinese and international collectors, as well as around 90 galleries; around two-thirds of the galleries are Chinese or international galleries with space in China.

The first edition of SH Contemporary in 2007 was a big hit and it attracted major galleries from around the world.

But after the global financial crisis in 2008 and cooling of the once red-hot Chinese contemporary art market, some of the top Western galleries have been absent.

This provides opportunities for more Chinese galleries to showcase young artists.

Among the participants this year: Beijing Art Now, Beijing Commune, Boers-Li, Eigen+Art, Galleria Continua, James Cohan, Lin & Lin, Long March, Nature Morte, Pace Gallery Beijing, Pearl Lam Fine Art, Pékin Fine Arts, Red Gate, Shanghart, Soka, Star, Tang Contemporary, Shanghai Gallery of Art, Tina Keng/TKG+, Triumph and White Space.

This year SH Contemporary highlights photography as a new segment with the potential to appeal to a younger audience. Buying photos as art is a new concept for most Chinese but the fairly low cost and appeal of limited editions may offer a new, as yet unmined area for collectors.

A new art photography section will be launched at SH Contemporary this year, with the participation of specialized international galleries, solo shows and establishment of the Asia Pacific Photography Prize (APPP).

Around 25 galleries at the fair submitted new works by 36 photographers. A single prize of 5,000 euros (US$7,133) will be awarded by an international jury.

SH Contemporary also features various events, including an art contest and Swatch watch art exhibition.

The "Empowering the Future" art competition aims to promote emerging young artists from China and provide educational and other opportunities. It is held in collaboration with the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. The first competition last year opened at SH Contemporary and ran through November. The winners from 2010 will be exhibited this year.

Swatch, the Swiss watch maker, has cooperated with more than 70 well-known artists and an exhibition of "Art on the Wrist" will be held during SH Contemporary. It features works by Keith Haring, Alfred Hofkunst, Markus Linnenbrink, Alessandro Mendini, Ivan Navarro and Mimmo Rotella.

In addition to SH Contemporary, the Shanghai Art Fair is underway from September 14-18 at ShanghaiMart and various exhibitions will be held around town. There's a lot to see, so put on your sneakers.

SH Contemporary

Date: Tomorrow (media, invitation),

September 8-10 (public)

Venue: Shanghai Exhibition Center, 1000 Yan'an Rd M.

Preview (invitation):

Tomorrow, 5pm-7pm

Private viewing (invitation):

Tomorrow, 7pm-10pm

Public (by ticket):

September 8 and 9, 11am-6pm

September 10, 11am-5pm

Shanghai Art Fair

Date: September 14-18

Venue: ShanghaiMart, 2299 Yan'an Rd W.

More Exhibitions

Li Shoubai's nostalgic paintings and paper-cuts

Li - known for his vivid paintings and paper-cuts of old Shanghai shikumen (stone-gated house) life - holds a solo exhibition of 70 works at Liu Haisu Art Museum.

His nostalgic works are in bright, heavy water color, with delicate black lines on rice paper, combining elements of traditional Chinese painting and Western oil painting.

The award-winning painter is also a master of elaborate paper-cutting art, which also depicts scenes from old Shanghai.

His works are considered part of the city's intangible cultural heritage.

Date: through September 9, 9am-4pm

Address: 2F, 1660 Hongqiao Rd

Wang Daishan's oil paintings

Wang, a young oil painter known for superb technique, makes his subject matter as fragile-looking young women and places them in settings in which they appear to suffer growing pains or lament the passing of youth.

The 30-year-old is a master of light and shadow and says he owes a lot to photography. He depicts often lonely figures that appear dramatically lighted, as if on a stage, and his works have a private and intimate aura.

Date: through tomorrow, 9am-4pm

Address: 1F, 1660 Hongqiao Rd

Wood carvings

A large-scale exhibition of Chinese wood carvings since 1931 is on display at the Shanghai Art Museum. Around 180 carvings are divided into three categories: 1931-1949, 1949-1978, 1978-2001, reflecting the development of wood carvings. This exhibition is also a tribute to Lu Xun, considered the father of modern Chinese literature. He also promoted wood carvings.

Date: through September 16, 9am-5pm

Address: 325 Nanjing Rd W.


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