Shanghai 上海

Last weekend I went to Shanghai, for a reading. It was my second trip to China’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city, and though I only had a three-day weekend holiday I made the most of it and saw many sights.

We stayed in the French Concession area, near Garden Books, and on Saturday we went up and down the old colonial area the Bund along the Huangpu River . Where we ate much delicious food, and even rode around on Mobikes!

Here are many old buildings::

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Then, it was recommended to take a ferry to the skyscraper-heavy Pudong side. I liked the bottle opener building. And of course the iconic Pearl Tower. It looks particularly beautiful at night, an image everyone has to check out.

The shopping road Nanjing road as well herein, and that covers all the good spots:

(Plus, the next day went to the charming alleyways of Tianzifang!)

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And at last, we were lucky enough to discover this excellent glass art exhibition near Tianzifang. Curated by Chang Yi with extensive work by Loretta H. Wang, the Why Glass? show utilized traditional Chinese styles to showcase brilliant glass sculptures often with Buddhist themes:

See more at the Liuli China Museum website

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It was an excellent trip. I also got to meet Marta of MartaLivesinChina.com and I thank everyone who came to the reading. It’s an honor to share my work with Shanghai, and if you’re ever in the area you can buy my book now fully stocked there (as well as other great books)…

 

Until next time, Shanghai~

 

Exhibition of David Bowie’s private art collection

On my last trip to Hong Kong, I was lucky enough to go to the exhibition from the late David Bowie’s private art collection. It was at Sotheby’s HK location at Pacific Place near the Admiralty area.

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Although I didn’t auction any of the pieces, it was a great experience to be able to witness works of art that Bowie had personally owned!

Really fascinating works. The man had an incredible aesthetic, as we all know. The Basquiat pieces particularly stood out:

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And there was even a work of art that Bowie collaborated on with Damien Hirst:

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More information can be found here: http://www.sothebys.com/en/news-video/blogs/all-blogs/bowie-collector/2016/10/bowie-collector-highlights-on-view-in-hong-kong.html

Unfortunately, the exhibition was only on for one week and I believe it has since moved to London. If you happen to get the chance to see it there, I highly recommend it.

Lastly, do please check out this slideshow:

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Hong Kong ASSEMBLING Art Exhibition Features Shenzhen-Based Artists

http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2016-07/28/content_3581798.htm

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“Of Coming Together and Having to Part” glass panel by Bronwen Shelwell, underneath the entrance to the gallery.

 

“ASSEMBLING,” an international art exhibition bringing together four Shenzhen-based artists, is being held at Sin Sin Fine Art in Hong Kong, and features an array of works that were assembled to complement one another.

The exhibition showcases four young artists from various countries who now call Shenzhen their home: Bronwen Shelwell, Marco Flagg, Tom Hayes and Zhang Kaiqin. The works of art are diverse, ranging from hanging installations to glass sculptures and even a piece made with growing seeds.

Curator Shelwell, who has lived in Shenzhen off and on since 2002, is very familiar with the city and also has experienced working in the art industry in Hong Kong. She currently lectures on art and design at SIFC.

“I’ve worked with Sinsin Man [owner of Sin Sin Fine Art] in the past, and have always been a great admirer of her,” she said. “When she asked me to curate an exhibition in her space, I was very honored and excited. We wanted to put together a group of artists who live in Shenzhen; the challenge was finding artists who are from different countries and work in different mediums.”

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“One Minute Suspended” hanging instillation by Bronwen Shelwell above “Geoscroll” by Tom Hayes in the center of the gallery.

Shelwell has a number of her own pieces on display. The centerpiece of “Assembling” would have to be the hanging installation, “One Minute Suspended.”

Powerful in scale and complexity, it has 375 individual balls covered in shards of glass hanging from the ceiling, like a massive Newton’s Cradle. The balls are arranged in a specific pattern, as Shelwell explained. “During our preliminary meetings, Flagg recorded and documented the conversation. My idea for the installation was to take the central minute of that entire conversation and create a pattern based on the soundwaves. The middle line is perfectly straight, and the outer lines of balls follow the patterns of speech of the recorded minute.”

She also has other pieces. There is a wide glass panel with melted red copper inside called “Of Coming Together and Having to Part,” which was created in a factory in Foshan.

Shelwell talked about the process of creating it, “I first arranged fiberglass foam into a wave, and then put two pieces of glass with copper sheets in the middle. Glass has the ability to look incredibly soft while actually being very hard and sharp, and I’ve always been interested in pushing the boundaries of appearance and reality. My other pieces also explore a similar concept with glass in movement and expanding out of a surface.”

Shelwell’s other pieces are a set of three paintings that incorporate shards of glass, entitled “Within,” “Pause” and “Expand.”

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“Pause” carefully arranges glass shards on a metal print in seemingly random yet controlled pattern.

Flagg is an American multimedia artist. His hometown is Albany, New York, and he’s been living in China for nearly a decade. Socially conscious, he studied documentary photography, and originally came to China with an NGO that worked in rural education. After first living in Beijing, he’s been in Shenzhen since 2009. His work is a video art piece called “Emergent.”

Among the most striking at the exhibition, “Emergent” is the only piece to incorporate sound. When one enters the space, a flat TV screen draws the eye with a hypnotizing array of animated colors. The accompanying headphones then welcome audience members to listen to a multi-layered conversation. Altogether it is a 1:48 loop which overlaps footage and audio recordings.

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“Emergent” video art piece by photographer Marco Flagg.

He explained the piece at length: “What I’m exhibiting is a multimedia piece called ‘Emergent’ which is documenting the initial meeting of the artists involved in this exhibition. All of us were given a selection of writing to respond to by the curator Bronwen … in a kind of round-table discussion at the gallery itself. I documented the audio and the video, and created the piece as a way to capture the exchange of ideas between these artists.”

Flagg also added the use of spectrometer display footage, switching around the senses of sight and sound. “A spectrometer basically displays the audio visually. With colors, red is more intense or a higher sound. Blue is a less intense or lower pitch sound.”

Flagg indeed finds Shenzhen to be an inspiring place for his style of art. “It’s rapidly developing,” he explained. “While some cities have more so-called traditional culture, Shenzhen is reacting to the issues of the current day in China. We can see that energy in the city. It’s very inspiring.”

Tom Hayes came from Britain to China in 2011 to study ceramics and previously managed the residency program at Da Wang Culture Highland at Wutong Mountain in Shenzhen. “Geoscroll,” a long scroll that uses Chinese iconography, is one of his signature pieces. “Sunplot” is more experimental and incorporates nature. Soy bean seeds planted in a circle represent the gathering of artists, and throughout the month as the plants grow, the art will also always be changing until both eventually disintegrate. “My work seems to be quite focused on processes and materials,” Hayes said. “I’m interested in transience and cycles in nature, and I find that working this way allows me to better communicate these feelings.”

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Seeds grow into beans for Tom Hayes’ “Sunplot,” a living piece of art.

Zhang Kaiqin is from Yunnan, China and has been living in Shenzhen for over 10 years. She studied in the United States, and currently works on the Baishizhou urban art project Handshake 302. Her painting, “An Afternoon in Summer,” is a layered rice paper canvas on which she applied watercolor and beeswax. The piece is light and airy, almost translucent, but upon closer inspection one can see its complexity.

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“An Afternoon in Summer” by Chinese artist Zhang Kaiqin, made from watercolor and beeswax.

It is fascinating to see how the artists use such a variety of mediums and backgrounds to express the theme of coming together.

 

“Assembling” will be on exhibit until Aug. 21 at Sin Sin Fine Art at 52 Sai Street in Central, Hong Kong. More information can be found at the gallery website: Sinsinfineart.com.

 

 

ASSEMBLING 貳 +叁 = 伍: Shenzhen-based artists exhibit in Hong Kong

Been a while since I published something from Shenzhen Daily, but I do have something in today’s edition. Basically I copy-pasted the press release and rewrote some quick bios, and they gave me the credit!

Also, please do check out the exhibition opening release party in Hong Kong, Friday July 22 to meet the talented artists…

 

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“Expand” by Bronwen Shelwell

http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2016-07/14/content_3571221.htm

Four artists who reside in Shenzhen — three expatriates and one Chinese — will showcase their art at Sin Sin Fine Art in Hong Kong from July 22 to Aug. 21.

Entitled “Assembling,” the exhibition will include ceramic, glass, installation, multimedia and painting, all assembled to connect with one another. Each artist has a unique perspective while sharing the same thread of chance that brought them together, with the content of “Assembling” all collaborating and complementing one another.

The opening reception will be held July 22 at 6:30 p.m. and will feature a performance by Spanish dancer Beatriz Abad Latorre. On Saturday, July 23 at 3 p.m. the artists will meet to discuss how the city of Shenzhen has impacted their work, life and creativity.

Bronwen Shelwell, who is from South Africa and works primarily with glass, is the curator as well as an artist and has a series of glass sculptures. Marco Flagg, a multimedia artist from the United States, will present a video art piece. Tom Hayes from Britain specializes in ceramics, and has produced a “living” sculpture that will grow during the exhibition dates. Zhang Kaiqin is a Chinese artist from Yunnan Province and she will exhibit a contemporary watercolor painting.

Dates: July 22-Aug. 21 (closed Sundays)
Opening reception: 6:30-8:30 p.m., July 22
Discussion panel: 3-5 p.m., July 23
Admission: Free
Venue: Sin Sin Fine Art, G/F, 52 Sai Street, Central, Hong Kong
MTR: Sheung Wan Station, Exit A1

 

http://sinsinfineart.com/2016/assembling/assembling-eInvitation.html

Art and the City panel

Went to the Art and the City panel at 812 Design Center in Shenzhen last week.

Here is Bronwen Shelwell’s speech on microspaces, about working in South Africa. Artists mentioned include Steven Hobbs, Hedwig Hoben, Nina Barnett, and Theaster Gates.

Forgive the many cuts in my edit, because there were lots pauses for the Chinese translator to speak which I took out of the video.

Very interesting, and inspiring!

Dream Community – Art Center in Taipei, Taiwan

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Recently, I took a trip to the Republic of China — also known as Taiwan — to visit the great city of Taipei. There comes a time when we all need a break from the mainland.

My girlfriend was invited to participate in a workshop at 夢想社區 // the Dream Community, and do check out the link. So I tagged along for the holiday weekend. She is a glass-blower, and relished the opportunity to use their studio for which to work on various creative projects. I was very lucky to be there to observe.

The Dream Community is a fascinating place, inspired by the aesthetics of Burning Man (recall I’ve been there) and full of amazing structures. The have a camp called Burning Mazu at the festival and it was quite cool to see how it gets built all the way on the other side of the world. The models, the building of parts, the planning and the labor. It sure takes a lot of work.

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The entire space was filled with glorious wonders…

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The space consists of several buildings with workshops inside. You can go there to explore, soak in the atmosphere, and even drop by while people working on projects.

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A lot was going on. From the glass furnaces to feats of art car engineering. For one thing, here’s a tile project:

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798 Arts District – Beijing

Thanks for waiting. Haven’t posted about art in a while, but rest assured I am still here and still writing sparse art blogs to encourage visits. Don’t ever forget the arts.

While I usually post art about Shenzhen, but recently I went to Beijing (trip went very well) and decided to check out their very esteemed art scene.

Of course, I speak of the 798 art district, the original Chinese-former-factory art district!

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While I have heard around that it isn’t what it once was — is anything ever? — I did have a great time wandering the coffee shops and observing the various outdoor sculptures.

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As for specific shows at specific galleries, UCCA was recommended to me and I’m glad it was.

The show was Elmgreen & Dragset: The Well Fair, which frankly blew me away. I rarely say that about exhibitions. In extremely postmodern terms, the art was about the nature of art galleries more than anything else. There was much question about whether things were “real” or not, whether the rooms and paths were art or part of the regular building. A broken staircase leading to the emergency exit, a donation box, signs pointing to a VIP room, even a fake washroom. It was quite an experience. And, some sculptures just plain melancholic.

Please check out the above links for more information, and my slideshow below though hardly doing justice:

 

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I wandered around a bit more afterwards. Yang Gallery, a showcase of “Abstraction Geometry”, and general wanderings come to mind…

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There’s a lot to see at 798. Do check it out if ever in Beijing.

Oh, and I got a caricature drawn. Looks like me?

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2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture

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I recently went to see an exhibition at the 2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture in Shenzhen. Formerly a flour factory, the reapproriated factory space (which is often a thing in China) was amazing. Who knew the Shekou Ferry area, ala 蛇口客运码头 Exit D1, could host such brilliant works?

Mary Ann O’Donnell of Shenzhen Noted and Handshake 302 Art Space (located in my neighborhood of Baishizhou) introduced the “n=distortion” exhibit — produced by  several young artists around the Pearl River Delta who came together for an ensemble piece to represent the region…

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It was very interesting to see how artists from Hong Kong, Dong’guan, Zhuhai, Foshan, and other nearby cities took their budgets to create unique representations of their respective locales. From Shenzhen’s shallow barber pole — all about money — to Macau’s small but flashy attempt to seek attention, each came together to form a whole which one artist could never come up with his or herself. I particualrly enjoyed Guangzhou’s bamboo construction made out of chopsticks. In the end they were presented upon a boat in the main hall.

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The main building hall was massive in scale, multiple floors, dynamic installations, and herein it’s difficult to express in pictures. The theme being “Re-living the City,” many of these pieces are meant to be interactive, with audience members walking through and even adding to the experience by way of turning musical knobs or drawing in chalk. Do put aside a lot of time to absorb the full experience when you come on by.

I hope the following slideshow inspires further interest:

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The exhibition will continue until February 28th, full of many workshops and talks scheduled. I will make the time to visit again, and if you’re in the area I highly recommend that you do too!

See official link for more details – http://en.szhkbiennale.org/

 

(Related: n=distortion web page)

(Shenzhen Daily article)

SZ-based expat artist wins Hong Kong award

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http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2015-08/13/content_3308964.htm

THE Asia Society in Hong Kong recently held an exhibition featuring the works of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara entitled “Life Is Only One.” Famed for his haunting portraits of large-eyed children juxtaposed against dangerous scenarios, the oil painter has inspired artists all around the world to challenge themselves and forge new connections.

For the end of the exhibition, the Asia Society decided to host a competition in which artists could submit work based on Nara’s aesthetics. The contest received hundreds of entries. Entries were divided into three sections: a child division for children aged 6-11, a youth division for teenage artists aged 12-17 and an open division for anyone 18 and over.

The competition’s champion was South African Shenzhen resident Bronwen Shelwell, an art lecturer at the OCT campus of Shenzhen Polytechnic’s International Foundation College, for her glass nest sculpture entitled “Home.”

“Inspiration for this artwork came from my own interpretation of Nara’s process, an artist I have admired for years,” said Shelwell. “I wanted to find a way to express a similar innocence, as he does with his childlike imagery, with a subconscious, violent twist. I took the familiar form of a nest — a symbol of home, safety and innocence — but constructed it out of the fragile, delicate, but also dangerous material of glass. In line with Nara’s process, the base of the glass nest was made out of found material — the broken glass of a car window scattered on the side of a road. I collected the shards and then made a mold, which I melted the glass into. On this base, I assembled glass rods, each one worked into a natural shape over a gas flame. I then built the nest piece by piece, as a child or bird would do.

“The nest is empty. I wanted there to be something read in its vacancy, something familiar, as with Nara’s imagery, but unnerving at the same time. I took an object always associated with warmth and safety but displayed it with a palpable loss.”

Shelwell has lived in Shenzhen for several years and frequently contributes to the Hong Kong art scene. “I go to Hong Kong often to see the latest exhibitions at contemporary art galleries. I feel this keeps me up to date with current trends, gives me inspiration. It also helps me be a better lecturer for my students and a better artist. I have worked with a few galleries, mostly behind the scenes in curating or writing about exhibitions and preparing for Art Basel, which was recently launched in Hong Kong.”

On Sunday the Asia Society hosted an awards ceremony — also presented by the Hong Kong Jockey Club — and finalists got to exhibit their pieces in a new show.

Shelwell was excited when she heard the news that she won the championship in the adult division. “I felt incredibly happy! It is my first time actually exhibiting one of my pieces in Hong Kong. I’ve exhibited in other countries and I have a few clients that I make artwork for in Hong Kong, but this is the first time I’ve had my art displayed in a gallery here. It was so overwhelming that the exhibition theme was based on an artist I love, and the space was the Asia Society, one of the most beautiful gallery spaces in Hong Kong.”

Shelwell also believes this is good news for Shenzhen. “I think it is a wonderful thing that artwork from Shenzhen was admitted and did well in a Hong Kong exhibition. I think this was a wonderful opportunity for the Shenzhen art community as a whole to be recognized in Hong Kong.”

The exhibition will be held at the Asia Society until Aug. 16. More information can be found at their website http://asiasociety.org/hong-kong.

 

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Asia Society arts award ceremony – an insider’s take

Sunday was a very special day for me and the very beautiful and very talented South African artist Bronwen Shelwell.

(Hope this blog isn’t a conflict of interest, but I think the story is worth sharing! The subsequent proper article might be, but that’s okay)

You see, over at the Asia Society in Hong Kong there happened to be an exhibition of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s works, “Life is Only One.” To complement the show, the society also hosted an art competition.

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So Bronwen decided to produce one of her signature glass nests, one which incorporates Nara’s themes of childish characters hinting at darkness and danger. She submitted the pitch, and we were pleasantly surprised when they quickly emailed back that she was a finalist and needed to come to HK to drop off the piece (Well, I wasn’t surprised; I was sure she would do well).

When they emailed soon after to say she was selected as champion of the open division, it was very exciting!

Sunday came and I was honored to be Ms. Shelwell’s “plus one” for the awards ceremony. We made a day of entertaining Hong Kong and enjoying the space.

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Then the ceremony began. It was rather quick, going through the child and youth divisions with various runners up. As champion, Bronwen was the last. There was even a ribbon cutting.

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Afterwards, we were free to go up to the gallery to observe all the interesting works. It was amazing how people can take inspiration from Nara and have such original takes. Glad to see a lot of creativity is happening in Hong Kong today, especially among young people.

Bronwen was able to show off her nest in person, entitled “Home,” and also took interviews.

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Shenzhen Art Museum

Last weekend we went to the simply-named Shenzhen Art Museum, of which I am ashamed to say I had never yet been.

The museum is located deep in Luohu District’s Donghu park, a beautiful park indeed, but not particularly nearby any subway station and hence I rarely go. A simple museum, the day’s theme was “Thermomatter” concerning the nature of the city itself juxtaposed by village traditions with urban sprawl…

Notably featured in SZ Daily:

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I appreciated the photography, electrical grid, and particularly the piece entitled Mother.

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Redtory Art District in Guangzhou

Despite the disappointing ‘comic con’, my little trip to Guangzhou wasn’t a total waste. In fact, I had a great time. It’s an amazing city, even bigger than the already-overwhelmingly mega cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. I recommend Turkish restaurants for example…

We decided to head to the Redtory/红专厂 art district, to showcase the lovely artistic side of the city. Like 798 in Beijing, it is made up of a former factory that has been refurnished into a space for galleries and hip little coffee shops. While Beijing’s version is far more successful and artistically valid, we make do with what we can in the Pearl River Delta.

 

http://www.redtory.com.cn/english

 

To get there, simply go to Yuancun station and right outside exit B there is a shuttle bus which only costs 2 yuan. Drive through an urban village area, it’s a little out there, but transportation is very convenient.

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Open 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

 

And then we made it!

Looks like a lot going on:

 

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There was a quaint market, always fun to buy little trinkets and gifts.

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Take a stroll to see the various shops.

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Even some factory-themed readymades.

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With many galleries featuring powerful works of painting, photography, and sculpture

 

 916 Studio: The Persistence of Images curated by Wang Chuan

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 RMCA Hall: Black Birds  exhibition by Israeli artist Avital Cnaani

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 The Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art featured an exhibit on “Neo-Mororism”
Tickets only 10 yuan

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 Lastly, I love this little mascot guy posted all over the place!

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Pedder Art Galleries in Hong Kong

I recently went to Hong Kong to check out some art galleries.

I highly recommend going to the Pedder Building on Pedder Street in Central. It’s very easy to get to; simply take the MTR to Central and walk out of Exit D1 and you’re right there.

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From up to down: The 1st floor contains Gagaosian Gallery – 2nd floor PearlLam Galleries – 4th floor Hanart TZ Gallery – 3rd floor Ben Brown Fine Arts

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The Rudolph Stingel exhibition at Gagaosian contained some interesting golden and metallic prints, large abstract scratches made from audience participation. I found it poignant that if you look directly into the reflective material you see yourself..

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PearlLam exhibited ‘Perfection by Chance’ Yi Pai series, the space regularly presenting leading Chinese artists. Works by Qin Yufen, Su Xiaobai, Su Xinping, Tan Ping, Yang Zhilin, and Zhu Jinshi curated by Professor Gao Minglu.

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Hanart TZ Gallary with Roundsky: paintings by Emily Cheng. Very new agey, lots of religious symbolism incorporating text into the paintings. Read closely.

And, the space had personalized arcade console with a working game!

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Ben Brown presented Simon Birch: The Inevitable. I found these paintings very powerful. Large-scale, a painter with much talent in presenting the human form but choosing to cut up the figures, especially the faces. Seemed full of anger, almost violent, never still.

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Some fine work up there.

All in all, it was a great day.

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SZ Art – Animation Biennial

On Sunday afternoon I went to the B10 art hall for the “2nd Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennial” within the OCT Loft neighborhood.

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I think it’s more a video art exhibition than animation. But semantics.

WP_20141221_010 - CopyLet us enter.

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Can you make out the artists? Somewhat international.

Make sure to click for more detail.

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The cinema, times:

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An avant-garde Japanese film, of which I honestly could not understand:

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I quite liked this Taiwanese loop, critique of consumerism it must be:

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And so on

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