With more than ninety galleries from eighteen countries in attendance, the sixth edition of SH Contemporary came to a close this Sunday, 9 September. Created in 2007, the contemporary art fair has been run since last year by a new team headed by Italian Massimo Torrigiani.
Unsurprisingly, a large number of Italian galleries (seven) are present at the prestigious Shanghai exhibition hall, one of the city's most outstanding examples of Communist architecture. Buoyed up by the still-booming Asian art market, the creation of art fairs has exploded in recent years in Asia. With its sixth edition, SH Contemporary may well be something of a veteran on the continent, but still plans to make the most of the dynamic economic environment. In comparison to Art Hong Kong and Art Stage Singapore (the two most important fairs in Asia), it benefits from its location within one of the largest cities in mainland China.
For this sixth edition, the majority of the galleries in attendance were in fact neighbours, many of the exhibitors being from Shanghai itself.
Among them, the IFA gallery presented works that included two monumental paintings by the GAO BROTHERS and images by one of China's most popular photographers in the western countries: LIU Bolin, 95% of whose lots have been auctioned in western countries. Liu Bolin is also an outstanding sculptor, whose work in steel was in fact being presented by MD Gallery. The latter was also exhibiting a brand new video installation (completed just this summer) by artist YANG Yongliang, best known for his photographs of landscapes composed of imaginary cities. The MD Gallery also featured further photos and a video consisting of four panels.
At Massimo de Carlo's gallery, a landscape by YAN Pei-Ming was juxtaposed with a wall sculpture by Piotr UKLANSKI, opposite an animal sculpture by Carsten HÖLLER – a green resin calf from the same series as the work Hippopotamus, which at $180,000 still is the artist's record sale (Sotheby's New York, 14 February 2008).
The booth of the Japanese gallery Shugo Arts was equally colourful, with a whole range of works by Teppei KANEUJI.
New York gallery owner James Cohan, also based in Shanghai, marked the event with a distinctive booth, where most of the works – bulls' heads – were reinterpretations by artists from his stable. All of them had devoted their efforts to the initiative, from YUAN Yuan and Qiu Xiaofei to WANG Xieda.
Continua Gallery, present in China since 2005, boasted a multitude of artists from all backgrounds: a reflection of its artistic openness. Works in chalk by Pascale Marthine TAYOU rubbed shoulders with a sculpture by Antony GORMLEY, itself contrasting strongly with the broken mirrors of Michelangelo PISTOLETTO. China's CHEN Zhen presented his distorted objects opposite Loris CECCHINI's imaginary landscapes. Meanwhile Egyptian artist Moataz NASR, who recently sold his first work at auction (with Insécure, which sold for over $9,500; Compagnie Marocaine des Œuvres & Objets d'Art, Casablanca, 26 November 2011) made his mark on this show with a work in porcelain.
Porcelain, an Asian tradition, was also featured at the Beijing Commune Gallery booth with the artist LIU Jianhua.
Among other Chinese symbols, a photograph of a giant panda by FENG Mengbo dominated the Shanghai Gallery of Art booth.
Recently set up in Hong Kong, but still occupying a space in Shanghai, the Pearl Lam Gallery exhibited a monumental work by artist WANG Tiande. Consisting of several parts, including a giant screen imitating those of stock exchanges around the world, the installation raised the eternal question of the relationship between art and money.
Meanwhile, the Boers Li Gallery had opted for a solo show presenting the drawings of artist LI Shan, whose influence on contemporary Chinese art in the 70s and 80s is only now being fully appreciated.
The Other Gallery staged an installation by Zhou Wendou, while a dress imprisoned in woollen threads by Chiharu SHIOTA was the pièce de résistance at Alexander Ochs.
With 35,000 visitors this year, the SH Contemporary exhibition attracted a wide audience of enthusiasts and collectors – further evidence of the vitality of the Chinese market.
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