West Bund Art and Design 2018: All Eyes on Shanghai

Cerith Wyn Evans, Neon Form (After Noh), 2018, Set of 4 neons, Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design
Cerith Wyn Evans, Neon Form (After Noh), 2018, Set of 4 neons, Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design
Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design
Shezad Dawood, Leviathian Legacy Trilogy: Part I, 2018VR Still ©Shezad Dawood. Courtesy UBIK Productions and Timothy Taylor, London/New York
Tatsuo Miyajima, Count Down Dialogue, 201827 neon lights, dimension variable © Tatsuo Miyajima Courtesy Lisson Gallery. Photo: Alessandro Wang
Installation view of “James Turrell” at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles, 24 May – 25 August 2018, Courtesy the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles Photo credit: Flying Studio, Los Angeles.
Dan Flavin, Untitled, (to Sonja), 1969
Yellow and green fluorescent light, Image Courtesy David Zwirner Gallery
Hauser & Wirth Installation View, Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design
Hanart TZ Installation View, Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design.
Hans Op de Beeck, Vanitas Table (peacock), 2017
polyester, plaster, polyamide, metal, 181 x 90 x 70 cm. Unique, Image Courtesy Galerie Krinzinger
Lehmann Maupin Installation View, Image Courtesy West Bund Art and Design.
Leslie Hewitt, Untitled (Perception), 2013
Digital chromogenic print in custom maple frame, 132.7 cm × 158.1 cm × 15.2 cm, Courtesy the artist and Perrotin
Esther Schipper Installation View, Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design
Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design
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Amidst the proliferation of exhibitions at private institutions, the 12th edition of the Shanghai Biennale, and coinciding Art021 fair, West Bund Art and Design emerges as a projection of Shanghai’s promise of establishing itself as a multifaceted regional artistic center and authority. 

TEXT: Aaina Bhargava
IMAGES: Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design

Cerith Wyn Evans, Neon Form (After Noh), 2018, Set of 4 neons, Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design

 

Characterized by an understated elegance, the vastly spacious, well lit halls of West Bund conjured an atmosphere ideal for discovering art.  The fair sits amongst a multitude of private museums, galleries, and institutions, located on the banks of the Huangpu River, a site with a significant logistical history now transformed into an impressive art complex.    Conceived in 2014 by the West Bund Group, and helmed by Zhou Tiehai with the intention of providing an unusual and unique fair experience, now in its fifth year, the fair maintains its distinctive presence in a horde of run-of-the-mill fairs.  Participating galleries presented sophisticated, thoughtfully curated booths, bolstering the appealing industrial aesthetic of the riverside location and taking advantage of the refined minimalist interiors of the fair itself.

 

 

Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design

 

Uncompromising on quality, the quantity of fair participants rose with almost forty new galleries joining.  Adjacent to the main one, an additional new hall was constructed to accommodate all 115 galleries, an unsurprising result of the fair’s prominence and prior status as an exclusive boutique fair.  The inclusion of more galleries and the fair’s rapid expansion allowed for the creation of a new program, Dream Video 100 and a wider selection for ArtReview Asia Xian Chang, a curated section featuring solo presentations of work by international artists displayed in and around the fair.  Galleries brought their A game in targeting Chinese collectors by bringing a selection of works reflecting trends currently thriving in the global contemporary art world, but more importantly which were new for Chinese audiences.    

 

Shezad Dawood, Leviathian Legacy Trilogy: Part I, 2018VR Still ©Shezad Dawood. Courtesy UBIK Productions and Timothy Taylor, London/New York

 

The launch of Dream Video 100 exemplifies this drive, picking up on the rising popularity and prevalence of video work currently seen in Asia.  Conveying the diversity in the development of video art globally, with more of a focus on China, over 100 film and video works were screened on an outdoor wall in the West Bund Plaza.  Works by Yang Fudong and Zhang Peili were shown alongside those by Vihls.  The presence of multimedia and digital mediums was extended into the Xian Cheng section. Timothy Taylor gallery presented Shezaad Dawood’s engrossing VR journey reimagining the future of our oceans 150 years from now in Leviathan Legacy. 

 

Tatsuo Miyajima, Count Down Dialogue, 201827 neon lights, dimension variable © Tatsuo Miyajima Courtesy Lisson Gallery. Photo: Alessandro Wang

 

Dominated mostly by sculptural installation, this sector exhibited notable works in neon including Cerith Wyn Evans unmissable luminous Neon Form suspended over the fair.  Presented by Marian Goodman Gallery as a “booth without walls,”  the placement of this work was exemplary of galleries experimenting with space and new forms of presentation at art fairs.  Each “form” hung stunningly, illuminating the hall and taking complete advantage of ceiling height and placement over the bleacher staircase.   Tatsuo Miyajima’s comparatively inconspicuous but brilliant site specific installation, Count Down Dialogue at Columbia Circle consisted of neon digits from 1 – 27, fixed onto pillars around a swimming pool.  Reflected in the water, numbers 9 – 1 correspondingly go on and off, flashing in a count down.    

 

Installation view of “James Turrell” at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles, 24 May – 25 August 2018, Courtesy the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles Photo credit: Flying Studio, Los Angeles.

 

The prevalence of neon recalls minimalism, which certainly seemed to be, and indeed is the flavor of the month, with galleries capitalising on growing regional interest in the 1960s American movement.  Building on interest generated by James Turrell’s show at the Long Museum in early 2017, L.A based gallery Kayne Griffin Corcoran brought works by Turrell and Mary Corse.  David Zwirner spearheaded efforts to bring something new and ‘high quality’ to the Chinese public, pre-empting the opening of their minimalism show in Hong Kong and coinciding with the opening of the highly publicised minimalism show at the National Gallery Singapore.  Certainly one of the most attractive booths, Zwirner’s presentation of a single work, a rare two piece gridded neon installation by Dan Flavin, Untitled (to Sonja) from 1969, proved to be wildly popular on the visitor front.  A notably more difficult piece to sell, the reason behind bringing such a work was clearly founded on an experimental intention with aims to educate, inform, and expose local audiences to new work.

 

Dan Flavin, Untitled, (to Sonja), 1969
Yellow and green fluorescent light, Image Courtesy David Zwirner Gallery

 

The rationale behind bringing works by established, renowned, critically acclaimed artists was premised upon the proliferation of private institutions being opened in China, particularly Shanghai.  Already, existing museums and centres along the west bund are exhibiting stunning, lauded shows.  Whether it was Louise Bourgeoisie’s sublime poetic sculptures at the Long Museum, Maurizio Cattelan’s profoundly curated contemplation on originality, The Artist is Present, at the Yuz Museum, or riveting multimedia works by Ryoji Ikeda and Matthew Day Jackson at the Tank, the quality of exhibitions staged along the cultural corridor is remarkable.   The proximity of the fair to these spaces amplified the potential of what a well informed collection could look like and what an institution can accomplish through education and exposure. 

 

 

Hauser & Wirth Installation View, Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design

 

The possibility of this potential was echoed in the curation of multiple booths, namely Hauser & Wirth’s cohesive presentation, Metaphorical Spaces featuring works by three artists: Eduardo Chillada, Roni Horn, and Larry Bell.  A captivating work by Horn was posed front and center, deceptively appearing to be a pool of water, eliciting much curiosity amongst viewers.  Fully constructed from glass, the work references materiality and nature through questioning perception, a theme carried through in both Bell’s reflective glass, and Chillada’s renowned organic sculptures. Akin to a mini institution worthy exhibition, their booth rendered a stimulating viewing experience, somewhat uncommon for an art fair.

 

 

Hanart TZ Installation View, Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design.

 

Also exercising curatorial prowess, Hanart TZ gallery transformed their booth into a stunning display of ink on paper works by Xu Longsen, further enhancing the fair’s visual and sensory experience.  The black and white toned abstract work crept up pillars and unravelled like a scroll, revealing a breathtaking landscape.  It subtly adhered to the white and grey surroundings, yet maintained an awe-inspiring aura.  

 

Hans Op de Beeck, Vanitas Table (peacock), 2017
polyester, plaster, polyamide, metal, 181 x 90 x 70 cm. Unique, Image Courtesy Galerie Krinzinger

 

Other highlights included Hans Op de Beeck’s striking monochromatic life-size sculptures at Galerie Krinzinger, who exhibited for the first time at westbund.  The Vanitas Table in particular proved to be an arresting recreation of an intriguing aggregation of symbolic objects.  Other first timers with notable presentations included Carlos/Ishikawa’s group show and 303 gallery’s solo booth dedicated to works by Tala Madani.  Lehman Maupin exhibited an ethereal doorway crafted by the ever popular, Do Ho Suh, while Esther Schipper showed a poetic collection of imaginative scores composed by Ari Benjamin Meyers.  Perrotin’s selection of Leslie Hewitt’s photo-sculpture hybrid works made a compelling impact, and marked the artist’s Asia debut. 

 

Lehmann Maupin Installation View, Image Courtesy West Bund Art and Design.

 

Leslie Hewitt, Untitled (Perception), 2013
Digital chromogenic print in custom maple frame, 132.7 cm × 158.1 cm × 15.2 cm, Courtesy the artist and Perrotin

 

At it’s core a commercial entity, an art fair relies on sales and profits, and is ultimately for collectors.  While concerns of a trade war, economic downturn, and slowing growth rate could and can affect the market, China still maintains it’s position as the second largest art market in the world, and shows no visible signs of losing it.  A fair like West Bund has carved a niche for itself in China’s rapidly developing art eco-system, differentiating itself from Art021, by asserting cultural (as opposed to commercial) priority.  It emphasizes this through its location in the West Bund cultural corridor, a more sophisticated selection and presentation of artworks, and the ability to attract established collectors, those who are open to education, exposure, and making well informed decisions about cultivating a collection.  The new development of including scan-able QR codes by each artwork to learn about them via the West Bund app certainly reinforces this education oriented mentality.

 

Esther Schipper Installation View, Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design

 

The strength of  art week in Shanghai, is that every exhibition and event is unapologetically and deliberately geared toward Chinese collectors and the Chinese public.  With this mindset, it is possible for two contrasting fairs to coincide, and co-exist with a multitude of institutions, and a biennale, staging quality exhibitions.  West Bund Art and Design continues to secure a unique and leading position in the art world calendar, distinguishing Shanghai as a critical artistic centre. 

 

Image Courtesy of West Bund Art and Design

 

West Bund Art and Design
8 – 11 November 2018
Shanghai

 
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