November 25, 2007

Shanghai surprise

Like many NYC galleries, the one that represented me for several years in the late Nineties went out of business after the financial downturn caused by 9/11, and the owner, believe it or not, moved to Shanghai. Now it turns out that Shanghai is the place to be. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Kelly Carter reports that Shanghai's Suzhou Creek neighborhood is at the forefront of China's contemporary art scene. "Not long ago Suzhou Creek was full of abandoned factories, run down and unoccupied since the 1980s. But now the area, just 20 minutes by taxi from the happening Bund, Shanghai's famous waterfront street, attracts tourists -- and serious collectors -- eager to check out the slew of art galleries hoping to capitalize on the explosion of China's contemporary art scene, which Chicago's Zhou Brothers were at the forefront of two decades ago....When ShanghART opened in 1996 as the city's first independent gallery for contemporary art, the exhibition was on a few walls in a local hotel. Now ShanghART shows works by 30 artists from different media, including video to ink and painting to photo, in an enormous gallery opened in 2005 and debuted a smaller exhibition space in 2004 in the M50 Art District, right next to Suzhou Creek. Although the gallery works with artists from all over China, it focuses on artists in Shanghai, such as Zhang Enli's, whose work most impressed me. Here, pieces go for $2,000 to $500,000 and attract serious collectors. ShanghART and Art Scene Warehouse, owned by Canadian Sami Wafa, were among the first galleries in the area. Since then, dozens of other galleries have followed. When we strolled around the area I saw just one coffee shop but I imagine in time there will be quite a selection, just like in Factory 798, Beijing's well-known contemporary art district whose name comes from its original home: No. 798 Electronics Factory, a former weapons factory converted into a complex of studios, workshops and galleries beginning in 2002." Read more. Check out the German School Shanghai's webcam.

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