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Shanghai art scene puts on fair show while struggling to recover from pandemic

Nov. 15, 2023 - 18:21 By Park Yuna

People visit the West Bund Art Center on the VIP opening day of West Bund Art & Design 2023 on Nov. 9 in Shanghai. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

SHANGHAI – International visitors returned to Shanghai’s West Bund, located on the west bank of the Huangpu River that runs north to south through Shanghai, where the 10th edition of the West Bund Art & Design fair took place from Nov. 9 through Sunday.

The city’s flagship art fair and one of the leading art events in all of China, taking place at the West Bund Art Center and West Bund Dome, drew the participation of some 190 galleries, including Gagosian, Hauser&Wirth, Pace Gallery, Perrotin and Gladstone Gallery, bringing works by acclaimed artists.

An installation view of Gagosian's booth at West Bund Art & Design 2023 (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

While the mood at the art fair was dampened by downpours and sales were not as expected, West Bund was dressed for the occasion with many art institutions and galleries in the area holding major exhibitions.

West Bund Museum, located right across the art fair venue, has been showcasing collections of the Centre Pompidou at the “Mirrors of the Portrait” and “Raoul Dufy: The Melody of Happiness” exhibitions.

A visitor views masterpieces at the exhibition "Mirrors of the Portrait" at the West Bund Museum in Shanghai on Nov.9. (Park Yuna/Th Korea Herald)

"Mirrors of the Portrait,” spread across two gallery spaces, is the third part of the semi-permanent exhibition, according to the West Bund Museum. It highlights multiple facets of the art of portraiture through a selection of 300 dating from 1895 to now.

French artist Raoul Dufy’s paintings, also shown in Seoul in May, were unveiled at the exhibition “Raoul Dufy: The Melody of Happiness,” opening with the three self-portraits by the artist.

Tank Shanghai glows with light on Nov. 9. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

Meanwhile, Tank Shanghai, a nonprofit art institution next to the West Bund Museum, consists of five tanks, with three tanks used as exhibition spaces while the rest are used for support functions. Among the shows currently running is “Lovers,” a solo show of British contemporary artist Thomas Houseago.

UCCA Edge in Shanghai is another must-visit. Founded by Belgian collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens, UCCA Beijing opened in 2007 to become a leading art institution in China. The Shanhagi space followed in 2021.

Henry Matisse's drawings are on display at "Matisse by Matisse" at UCCA Edge in Shanghai. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

The largest solo exhibition in China of the Fauvist master Henri Matisse(1869-1954) is running at the museum through Feb. 18, 2024. The exhibition was curated by Patrice Deparpe, director and chief curator at the Matisse Museum in Le Cateau-Cambresis, France.

The exhibition shows some 200 works by Matisse, ranging from oil paintings and sculptures to sketches and cutouts. The show unveils some rarely seen early works by Matisse before he made his reputation as a Fauvist master.

Henry Matisse's paper cut-outs are on display in "Matisse by Matisse" at UCCA Edge in Shanghai. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

"Before, I had no interest in anything, I felt a great indifference for everything that people tried to make me do. From the moment I held this box of paints in my hands, I knew this was my life," displays a quote from the artist at the show.

Close to UCCA Edge is Rockbund Art Museum, which opened to the public in 2010. The museum is currently showing a solo exhibition of young Chinese artist Tan Jing, who experiments with textures, materials and form within sculpture and installation genres.

An installation view of "Floor Tiles and Flowers" by Tan Jing at Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

The iconic three-story red brick building, known as Amber Building, that faces Rockbund Art Museum is hard to miss. Built in 1937 and used as the Central Bank of China during the Republican period, the building now houses three prestigious Western galleries: Perrotin, Almine Rech and Lisson Gallery.

The Amber Building in Shanghai houses three world-renowned galleries: Perrotin, Almine Rech and Lisson Gallery. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)