Leslie Kuo has been working in Chinese contemporary art galleries in both New York and Shanghai and is now managing Leo Gallery in Ferguson Lane. Their current show, “Small Is Beautiful,” features a collection of small sculpture works in recognition that much of Shanghai’s crafted landscape is composed of small spaces. Here Leslie tells us five different ways to get an art fix in 2010.
1. Family Comes First.
Red Town is a perfect way to spend a day with the family. Bring a picnic to eat on the turf-covered roofs that double as hills overlooking the outdoor sculpture park. Later, explore the Shanghai Sculpture Space’s indoor exhibition space before dropping the kids off at Lei Art Studio for class. Parents can then grab coffee at Beca Café or Coffee Bean before strolling over to other galleries located within the largely pedestrian complex including DDM Warehouse, Eye Level Art Gallery, Minsheng Art Museum, Red Bridge Gallery, and Shanghai Shengling Art Gallery.
2. Variety Is the Spice of Life.
Sometimes guests just want to see it all. The best surprise of the year came from checking out the 3rd annual open studio weekend at 696 Weihai Road this April. StageBack, has the experimental feel of lower east side Manhattan. Artist Maleonn’s studio is as staged as his photography and a fascinating spectacle very much worth visiting. The third must-see of the complex is AroundSpace’s assembled gallery space. Make sure you take a look at the second floor space in a separate building from their ground floor exhibition rooms. blew me away with their assembled space.
After the grunge of 696, head over to People’s Park, where the city’s museums are situated. Shanghai Museum has a collection of traditional art forms such as jade, copper, and calligraphy. The highlight is the Chinese Minority Nationalities Gallery on the top floor where a collection of traditional minority dress showcases the superb embroidery distinctive to each tribe.
The privately-run Museum of Contemporary Art is at the northern end of the park and is a beautiful space to view what everyone is talking about in the contemporary art world right now. Duck into Barbarossa next door to relax with a hookah pipe while overlooking the lily pond. Wax poetic over the day’s finds.
696: 696 Weihai Road near Shanxi Road
Shanghai Museum: People’s Park , No. 201 Renmin Avenue near Huangpi North Road
MOCA: People’s Park, 231 Nanjing West Road near Huangpi North Road
3. The Luxe Guide.
Need to impress an overseas client? Put on your good shoes and prepare to alternate between champagne cocktails and fine art buzz. A good start is Shanghart’s newest location inside the Dunhill complex. After warming up with a cocktail next door at Kee Club’s Aquarium, take a cab to see what’s happening at 18Gallery, now run by Parisian Magda Danysz. Lounge 18 — where SH Contemporary’s opening party was held this past September – is conveniently located adjacent to the gallery. Afterwards, head down to Three on the Bund to check out the impressive Shanghai Gallery of Art before settling into dinner at one of many Bund mainstays including M on the Bund, Jean Georges, Laris, and New Heights. Glamour Bar awaits you at the end of the night…
ShanghART: 796 Huaihai Lu near Maoming Road
Aquarium: Kee Club at 796 Huaihai Road near Maoming Road
18Gallery/Lounge 18: Bldg 4, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road near Sichuan Zhong Road
Three on the Bund: 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road near Guangdong Road
4. Bike Tour in French Concession.
One of the best ways to enjoy Shanghai is by bike along the tree-lined streets of the former French Concession. With so many interesting galleries now in the French Concession, it’s impossible to hit all of them in one afternoon. Here is just one of countless possible routes:
Meet your cycling buddies for brunch at Coffee Tree in Ferguson Lane, a great place to sit in an enclosed courtyard while planning the day’s itinerary over a hearty Coffee Tree Breakfast – homemade bread, croissant, baguette, salami, cheese, jam, tomato, cucumber, butter, fresh fruit, boiled egg, orange juice, and bottomless coffee. Located just outside of the courtyard space is Leo Gallery, which shows works by top contemporary Chinese artists and international artists.
From Ferguson Lane, bike north on Wukang Road and take a left at Fuxing West Road until you’ve almost reached Huashan Road. The Elisabeth de Brabant Art Center exhibits works against exposed grey brick walls within a cozy multi-level space. Following Fuxing West Road east and past Baoqing Road, stop in 140 sqm. This gallery exhibits some of the Beijing artists that have helped shape the world of Chinese Contemporary Art.
Next, make a right on Fenyang Road and follow the street as it curves into Yueyang Road. Look for James Cohan Gallery, tucked away in a residential lane. This New York-based gallery has brought amazing work by top international artists to Shanghai. You’ll more likely see these works again in a museum before they end up above a couch.
Depending on whether you catch them before they relocate, Art Labor isn’t far away on Yongjia. Every exhibit opening is as friendly and open as a house party, so if you plan ahead, this is the right way to end the day.
Leo Gallery: Ferguson Lane, 376 Wukang Road near Tai’an Road
Elisabeth de Brabant Art Center: No. 299 Fuxing Xi Lu near Huashan Lu
140 sqm: 1331 Fuxing Zhong Lu, Room 26, near Baoqing Lu
James Cohan: 1/F, Building 1, Lane 170 Yueyang Road near Yongjia Road
Art Labor: # 10-36, Yongjia Road near Shanxi Road
Biking in the north side of the Old French Concession? Try these:
Andrew James Art: 39 Maoming Bei Lu near Yan’an Zhong Lu
Art+Shanghai Gallery: 22 Fumin Road, House 2 near Yanan Road
Ifa Gallery: 621 Changde Lu near Wuding Lu
5. Riverfront Properties.
M50 is still the most densely populated gallery district in Shanghai, so I’ve taken larger groups here for a few hours so they can peruse at will. Eastlink, Island 6, Art Scene Warehouse, H-Space, and SHiNE Art Space are popular, though SHiNE recently closed their M50 location for a new space in 2010. Not to be missed is also Bamboo Art Space and M97, both a few meters from the entrance of the M50 complex. For the more ambitious, bike or walk along the landscaped park lining the south side of the Suzhou Creek before crossing the bridge north to reach Creek Art Center, a former flour mill. Or stay on the south side of the river to visit River South Art Center, another great example of a industrial space cum art house.
M50: 50 Moganshan Road near Aomen Road
M97: 97 Moganshan Road near Aomen Road
Bamboo Art Space: 20 Moganshan Road near Aomen Road
Creek Art: Behind 423 Guangfu Road near Wuzhen Road
River South Art Center: 1247 South Suzhou Road near Xinzha Road