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Shanghai Art Trade Week: The Art Extravaganza of November 2023

By OGP Reporters / Members Contribute File Photos


Oh Good Party

The Shanghai art scene in November 2023 has attracted widespread attention, undoubtedly becoming a compass for contemporary art trends. These two exhibitions not only present a feast of art covering multiple dimensions but also, on a deeper level, guide people to contemplate the present, the future, and the significance of science and philosophy in the human condition.

In the dazzling lights of November, Shanghai shines brightly, witnessing an increasing number of individuals choosing this diverse, inclusive, and youthful city to embark on their art collection journey. Recently, ART021, the Shanghai Biennale, and the West Bund Art & Design Fair opened simultaneously, marking the beginning of the Shanghai International Art Trade Week. With nearly 200 art exhibitions hosted by various art institutions, spaces, and galleries, including exhibitions like UCCA Edge's showcase of Fauvist leader Matisse, the "Melody of Joy" Raoul Dufy retrospective at the West Bund Museum, the "Watering the Desert" Qatar Art Exhibition at the Yuz Museum, Prada Rong Zhai's "PARAVENTI: Screens" exhibition, and Long Museum's 10th-anniversary celebration with the "Portraits" exhibition, a unique cultural scene has emerged, leading art enthusiasts and collectors into a marvelous art feast.



2023 ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair


This edition of the ART021 fair has set a record for the highest number of exhibitors, making it the largest-scale exhibition at the Shanghai Exhibition Center to date. Gathering 150 high-quality galleries from 16 countries and regions, representing 34 cities worldwide, the fair showcases nearly ten thousand contemporary art masterpieces, illustrating the increasingly vibrant art scene and the enthusiasm for international exchange.


The fair continues its MAIN GALLERIES primary gallery unit, APPROACH unit, BEYOND public unit, special projects, and concurrent thematic forums. The MAIN GALLERIES unit brings together 130 large-scale galleries from around the world, including 27 participating for the first time. Renowned international galleries present carefully curated works by selected artists, contributing museum-level contemporary art masterpieces and promising works to this year's grand art event.



Leading galleries from global art hubs present diverse art practices, and several high-end design galleries and art jewelry brands infuse the fair with a varied and refined aesthetic taste. Additionally, leading digital art galleries exclusively create immersive curatorial spaces, engaging in profound interactions with contemporary visual culture. ART021 also provides strong support for local artists, with galleries from 17 cities and regions in China participating. Representative galleries span from first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to art spaces in Sichuan, Jiangsu, Hunan, Anhui, Xinjiang, showcasing the unique features of different cities and revealing the latest trends in contemporary art within various regional and cultural contexts.



The APPROACH unit aims to support emerging galleries from different regions and cultural contexts, uncovering tomorrow's art stars. This edition of APPROACH introduces 20 carefully selected galleries, with 11 making their debut. These galleries, representing China, South Korea, Greece, Japan, Canada, France, Latvia, and Russia, explore the spirit of the times and artistic expressions in the context of cross-cultural fusion through painting, sculpture, installations, and images.


The BEYOND public unit enriches the fair with diverse forms of art, shaping and rejuvenating public spaces to provide the audience with opportunities to explore and engage in contemporary art dialogues. Numerous special projects involve well-known auction houses, non-profit organizations, designer brands, and internationally renowned art publishers, offering the fair a more open perspective and cultural experience..



Here are some must-visit places for collectors and art enthusiasts:


CINDY CHAO Booth


Renowned jewelry artist Cindy Chao collaborates once again with the well-known Dutch architectural space designer and sculptor Tom Postma. Continuing the theme of "Layered Time and Space," they construct a stunning exhibition space with a progressively layered, open design that combines the virtual and the real. This design allows viewers to step gradually into the artist's creative world, experiencing the peak craftsmanship and freely expressive creativity of the brand. She exhibits two new works from the 2023 Black Label Masterpiece series - the "Pamir Brooch" and the "Seine Spring Bracelet," aiming to provide a complete understanding of the artist's creative career and showcase CINDY CHAO's unique jewelry art. The architecturally artistic exhibition space is a highlight not to be missed at ART021.



ART'N DIOR Booth


Christian Dior, the founder of the Dior brand, was once passionate about gallery management and art collecting before becoming a fashion designer. This exhibition covers the DIOR LADY ART #8 artist limited collaboration series, the "MISS DIOR In My Eyes" retrospective, and the DIOR BY STARCK oval back chair series. The "DIOR LADY ART artist limited collaboration series" was launched in 2016, inviting twelve artists from around the world to interpret the transformation and rejuvenation of the LADY DIOR handbag from unique perspectives. The DIOR LADY ART #8 artist limited collaboration series gathers artists from China, the UK, Japan, and the USA, presenting the multi-faceted charm of this classic handbag. The "MISS DIOR In My Eyes" retrospective brings together works by nine outstanding female artists who showcase their unique interpretations of Miss Dior's perfume through various forms of art, revealing the multi-layered meanings of the fragrance. The DIOR BY STARCK oval back chair series adds the finishing touch to this artistic exploration, presenting a captivating dialogue of craftsmanship, heritage, and innovative creativity between Dior and design master Philippe Starck. This not only pays homage to Mr. Dior's passion for art but also continues the profound connection between the Dior brand and China, as well as the world of art.



LOEWE Booth


LOEWE unveils the 2023 Spring Collection with the "China Monochrome Glaze Ceramic Exhibition," showcasing the commitment of national-level intangible cultural heritage representative Deng Xiping to the traditional monochrome glaze firing technique for over half a century. The exhibition features 160 ceramic art pieces of the Monochrome Glaze Gong Bell Bowl series. Inspired by the minimalist aesthetics of traditional monochrome glaze ceramics between the Ming and Qing dynasties, Deng Xiping's works exhibit a bright, smooth, and elegant overall appearance, akin to the colors of the sky. Alongside the ceramic Gong Bell Bowls are LOEWE's 2023 Spring Collection handbag works, including iconic bags like Puzzle, Hammock, and Flamenco. These handmade bags draw inspiration from classical Chinese art, offering a modern interpretation of the elegance of monochrome glaze that complements the ceramic art beautifully. Furthermore, to support the preservation of this ancient craft and cultural heritage, LOEWE will donate funds to support a new "Monochrome Glaze Ceramic Education Project" at Jingdezhen Ceramic University, encouraging more young students and artists to carry on this craft.



Other Highlights:


BEST BOOTH Award:

White Cube Gallery, established in 1993, is one of the world's top contemporary art galleries. The exhibition features dual solo shows by German artist Imi Knoebel and British artist Rachel Whiteread.


BEST PRESENTATION Award:

ShanghArt Gallery, founded in 1996, is one of the earliest galleries in China dedicated to contemporary art. The central installation "Screen" by Zhang Ding reflects the entire space through large mirrors, creating a fascinating interaction with other artworks.


BEST CONCEPT Award:

PA Gallery (Parshina Avanesova Gallery), established in 2019, focuses on showcasing modern and contemporary art from Russian and international artists. Participating in the APPROACH unit for the first time, the gallery presents works by artist Anna Kakimina, combining painting, installation, and sculpture to explore the concept of "naturally occurring art."



In conclusion, the 2023 ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair showcases the vibrant diversity and creativity of art, unveiling the dynamic intersection and fusion of different cultures, histories, and traditions. Through a rich array of exhibitions and projects, the Art Trade Week provides a dynamic platform for artists to showcase their creativity and offers an exhilarating and surprising feast for the audience. This event not only stimulates the creativity of artists but also provides an opportunity for collectors and art enthusiasts to discover unique artworks, injecting new vitality into the entire art ecosystem and adding brilliance to Shanghai's urban culture. The exhibition serves not only as a platform for commercial transactions but also as a lively link connecting the global art world, promoting cultural exchange. This grand event brings together top galleries, collectors, artists, and art enthusiasts from around the world, witnessing and participating in the vibrant prosperity and development of contemporary art.



The 14th Shanghai Biennale


The 14th Shanghai Biennale, titled "Cosmos Cinema," is like a thought-provoking artistic spectacle. Over two hundred pieces are passionately presented by 79 individual or group artists from around the world. This extraordinary exhibition goes beyond the conventional model of globalization, exploring humanity's yearning for the unknown cosmos and the desire to reshape time and space in an exhilarating way.


The theme of "Cosmos Cinema" integrates the exploration of outer space with the re-creation of the film medium. In this theme, "cosmos" is endowed with profound philosophical connotations, seen as a domain for human contemplation. Meanwhile, "film" becomes a unique means of expression, using cinematic techniques to showcase human imagination regarding space exploration.



Curator Anton Vidokle emphasizes, "The cosmos shapes every aspect of our lives," not only creating our origin stories, religions, concepts of time, and economic systems through the interpretation of stars but also influencing us through phenomena like tidal movements and solar flares. The purpose of this exhibition is to delve into the intricate relationship between humanity and the cosmos, revealing how it influences our understanding of the world.


The exhibition's creative structure draws inspiration from traditional Chinese astrology, dividing the entire exhibition into nine "palaces," each with a unique theme such as "Interstellar Free Movement," "Eclipse," "Myriad Forms," "Solar Assembly Line," "Film Universe," "Diverse Futurism," "Remote Reflection Therapy," "Between Time and Space," and "Wind and Rain Combing." This arrangement turns the entire exhibition into a vast interstellar chart, allowing visitors to traverse different themes and experience the collision of various cultures and regions.



At the entrance of the Biennale, the prominent installation "Non-Functional Satellite Prototype (Design 4; Build 4)" by American artist Trevor Paglen stands out and prompts profound reflection. This installation symbolizes humanity's enthusiasm for space, as Paglen raised $1.5 million to create the "first purely artistic satellite" and launched it into space. This raises a series of questions: Can humanity's conquest of space only be carried out through technological, commercial, or scientific means? Can we see a satellite devoid of function, purely existing in the realm of art when we gaze at the stars?


What makes this exhibition unique is that artists express diverse interpretations of cosmic philosophy and aesthetics through various forms such as painting, installation, sculpture, imagery, and literature. From the impulse to explore outer space to profound reflections on the origin of consciousness, and concerns spanning ecology, sociology, economics, and more, the exhibition presents a comprehensive consideration of the relationship between Earthly life and the cosmos.


"Cosmos Cinema" is not just an artistic feast; it is also a fascinating journey of intellectual exploration. As visitors wander through the exhibition, they not only experience the unique perspectives of the artists on the cosmos but also immerse themselves in topics such as space exploration, human existence, and technological progress. It is not only an international exchange of art but also a spiritual journey connecting human thoughts with the mysteries of the universe.



The Shanghai art scene in November 2023 has attracted widespread attention, undoubtedly becoming a compass for contemporary art trends. These two exhibitions not only present a feast of art covering multiple dimensions but also, on a deeper level, guide people to contemplate the present, the future, and the significance of science and philosophy in the human condition.


For example, ART021, with its rich and diverse exhibits, brings together the diverse voices of global art in Shanghai. This exhibition reflects the independent insights of contemporary artists into society, culture, and individual experiences, presenting the collision and fusion of different cultures, regions, and thoughts. Visitors to ART021 not only feel the visual impact but also gain an insight into and understanding of a diverse world. This multidimensional expression transforms art from isolated individual creations into a platform for societal dialogue and critical thinking.


On the other hand, the 14th Shanghai Biennale, with the theme "Cosmos Cinema," shifts the focus of art to a more macroscopic level. Artists, by contemplating the cosmos, transcend the boundaries of the individual and society, delving into the position and existence of humanity in the universe. The choice of this theme reflects concerns about science, philosophy, and cosmology, transcending art's limitation to the expression of individual emotions and societal issues, becoming a vessel for humanity's questions and reflections on the mysteries of the universe. What audiences experience in "Cosmos Cinema" is not just the aesthetics of art but also a profound contemplation of the universe, life, and existence.



It's worth noting that starting from November, Shanghai will host a plethora of art exhibitions, and this exhibition frenzy will continue until March of the next year. For collectors and art enthusiasts, this is a rare opportunity to delve into various styles, genres, and concepts during this creative and speculative art season. It is recommended that art lovers actively participate in these exhibitions, experience the charm of art, engage in dialogues with artists' thoughts, and collectively explore the infinite possibilities of contemporary art. This is not only an art journey but also an inspiration for culture and the future of humanity. In the face of the rapidly changing challenges of modern society, art becomes a key medium for expressing and understanding this transformation.

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