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This week's Eye on Art, Shanghai 247 visited Moganshan Road and cherry-picked 5 galleries specializing in the natural world that can cure your urban blues.
Sanzi Art was our first port of call, which immediately drew us in with its series of beautiful oil paintings, each depicting the grandeur of nature, whether that be huge mountain crags, or a waterfall crashing over rocks. The stark black and grey colors are particularly effective, as is the vast sky that makes great use of empty space, overwhelming the tiny monks huddling in each painting. As long as you’re not intimidated by the preface that waffles on about Taoistic philosophy, this is a must see before the work changes early next month.
Korean artist Koo Bona also explores landscapes, but his exhibition at Shun Gallery puts a different spin on things. Bona is interested in concepts of time and many of his pictures make use of clocks. Teeth of Time for example uses Korean paper and ink to create a huge craggy mountain. Look closely inside however and you can see the mountain's innards are made up of pale blue cogs and bits of machinery. Other pieces such as ‘Emotions on Journey’ depict actual clocks with leaves and bits of greenery sprouting from the innards. Before we left we also stumbled across an impressive installation piece - a huge heart, created by hundreds of rusted padlocks, like the ones couples engrave at bridges and scenic spots. Overall the exhibition is decadent without being overly depressing, and we defiantly recommend you come before it closes on the 14th of next month.
If you fancy something a little smaller we have two ideal places for you. Firstly, Lotus Gallery, which despite its small size, its work is no less bold, with a series of explosive paintings that combine western and eastern techniques. The artist He Ye is especially talented at depicting lotuses; his oil paintings using vibrant greens and reds that add a violence to the mild subject matter. Simultaneously quaint and powerful, the work is well worth a look. Secondly, Tian Yi Art specializes in a similar impressionist aesthetic, but the variety of landscapes, flowers, and different moods captured is extremely impressive. Flowing Water from Mountains is just what it says on the tin, and with its huge size and long, bold strokes, it immediately catches your eye as you enter the gallery. Blossoming in a Dream is also eye catching, depicting red blossom that almost has the energy of a firework. Both galleries will be changing their work by the end of the week, so come whilst you can.
Finally, the exhibition Mirage at 55 Gallery is the odd one out on our list, but with the heavy emphasis on public space, and a neat dangly fairly light installation that looks like stars, we feel it deserves a mention. Mirage was created by a group of young artists who have turned the space into a garden, complete with a hammock and chess table. The theme is the discrepancy between appearance and reality, which is shown perfectly in the piece The State of the Union by Tao Xue. The artist has taken newspaper pages reporting from the annual State of the Union speech, and crushed them inside a mortar and pestle to form little newspaper 'cakes' which are haphazardly strewn across the room. Other highlights include a video piece were live ducks are connected by SMS gear and left to fight it out - bizarre, but impossible not to watch. The exhibition ends on October 28th.
Its exciting times to be an art lover in Shanghai at the moment, what with the dual openings of the China Art Museum and Power Station Of art. That's no reason though to neglect the city's smaller galleries. November will bring not only red leaves and dark nights, but also a fresh wave of new exhibitions, so watch this space for all the latest info!
WORDS: NICK BEAUMONT
PICTURES: NICK BEAUMONT