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  • Nov 10, 2021

What’s Showing at West Bund Art & Design 2021

November is Shanghai’s art season, with two art fairs and numerous museum and gallery shows opening the same week. The eighth edition of the West Bund Art & Design fair features more than 120 exhibitors from 18 countries at the exhibition halls of the West Bund Art Center and nearby West Bund Dome. In addition to the main gallery section, the fair’s program includes the annual section of site-specific solo presentations called Xiàn Chǎng and Video AI Plaza, which features video art by 16 individuals and collectives such as Wang Tuo and SemicolonC. Here’s a look at a few of the anticipated highlights from West Bund Art & Design’s 2021 edition.

Detail of HAN MENGYUN’s Logic of the Ether, 2021, wood, artist printed textiles, video, and audio, two parts, 300 × 300 × 300 cm each. Copyright the artist. Courtesy the artist and Capsule Shanghai.

Han Mengyun

Capsule Shanghai

Han Mengyun’s multimedia sculpture Logic of the Ether (2021) comprises two major wooden structures inspired by the geometric shapes of the caisson ceilings in Chinese wooden architecture and Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang. Through references to these ancient structures and religious patterns that captured her imagination about the origin of the universe, Han evokes how the cosmos was measured and recreated by human hands.

HE XIANGYU, Hard Palate 32-2, 2020, pencils, colored pencils, oil colored pencils, oil pastel, crayons, and paper, 560 × 800 cm. Copyright the artist. Courtesy Whitespace Beijing.

He Xiangyu

Whitespace Beijing

The latest paintings from He Xiangyu’s ongoing Palate Project (2012– ) series are abstract, colorful patterns translated from the sensations of touching the roof of his mouth using his tongue. Initially derived from the language barrier and cultural crisis he experienced during a stay in the United States, these paintings translate oral, and aural, textures into visual forms.  

YUICHI HIRAKO, Yggdrasill 07, 2021, mixed media, 188 × 92 × 60 cm. Copyright the artist. Courtesy Kotaro Nukaga Gallery, Tokyo.

Yuichi Hirako

Kotaro Nukaga Gallery, Tokyo

Yuichi Hirako’s iconic “tree-man” figure—consisting of a leafy bush for a head and wearing human clothes—has been the center of his multimedia practice. Named for a mythical tree in Nordic mythology, Yggdrasill, Hirako’s series of human-sized sculptures envisions a world animated by the sacredness of the forest.

SUN XUN, Magic of Atlas – Parade of Sweet Dream Festival, 2021, woodcut painting, 183 × 640.5 cm. Copyright and courtesy the artist and ShanghArt Gallery,  Shanghai / Beijing / Singapore.

Sun Xun

ShanghArt Gallery, Shanghai / Beijing / Singapore

The latest red-and-black painting from Sun Xun’s project Magic of Atlas (2021) illustrates a nightmarish carnival in the artist’s imagined country Luo Sha, with gigantic fish and monsters roaming in smoke across the streets. Part of the artist’s animated film project, the painting and stop-motion animations depict a political regime similar to those of 1930s-era Manchuria and Germany, where there’s no history or concept of the larger world.

Installation view of RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA and TOMAS VU

Tomas Vu and Rirkrit Tiravanija

Hua International, Beijing / Berlin

The collaborative project by Tomas Vu and Rirkrit Tiravanija GREEN GO HOME (2013– ) riffs on the Latin American term “gringo” for White foreigners. The travelling project comprises a pavilion with Tiravanija’s text-based prints overlaid on portraits of figures such as activist Angela Davis, artist Ana Mendieta, and singer David Bowie. Through the juxtaposition of these images, Vu and Tiravanija challenge the legacy of US interventions in Latin America and play with the cultural misunderstandings each iteration of the pavilion provokes.

VAUGHN SPANN, Midnight Marvel, 2021, mixed media, polymer paint on wood panel, 152.4 × 121.9 cm. Copyright the artist. Photo by Thomas Mueller. Courtesy the artist and Almine Rech, Paris / Brussels / London / New York / Shanghai.

Vaughn Spann

Almine Rech, Paris / Brussels / London / New York / Shanghai

Vaughn Spann’s abstract and figurative paintings delve into the relationship between space, time, and memory, drawing on scenes from life such as a portrait of a Black teenager popping bubble gum beneath an umbrella. Concurrently his latest series of abstract compositions, inspired by the spots on a Dalmatian, are showing at the gallery. 

TU HONGTAO, The Three Wishes, 2020

Tu Hongtao 

Lévy Gorvy, New York / London / Hong Kong / Paris / Palm Beach

Tu Hongtao’s abstract oil paintings explore the fluidity of time and memory. Incorporating oil sticks into layers of oil paint, he plays with light and shade in Autumn View of Fluctuating Peaks (2020–21), which depicts the spectacle of overlapping mountaintops, and uses them to construct the depth of space in the blue-and-gray painting The Three Wishes (2020–21). 

GABRIEL RICO, The second cause is meant to be an explanation of the first (Panal), 2020, embroidered thread on canvas (traditional huichol technique), 100 × 100 × 5 cm. Copyright the artist. Photo by Diego Arg

Gabriel Rico

Perrotin, Paris / New York / Seoul / Tokyo / Shanghai / Hong Kong

Guadalajara-based artist Gabriel Rico makes installations that draw on the interconnections among the “lost and found” objects such as neon, taxidermy animals, and ceramics from his collection, in order to inspire new understandings of these objects. For his latest series, The second cause is meant to be an explanation of the first (2020– ), Rico draws on the Mexican folk technique of Nierika, translating his unique arrangements of objects into designs of cotton yarn on wooden boards.

TETSUMI KUDO, Meditation Between Memory and Future, 1978, painted cage, artificial soil, wax flowers, cotton, plastic, polyester, resin, thread, sand, yarn, wood, fly-fishing feather lure, and thread, 48.5 × 49 × 23.7 cm. Copyright Hiroko Kudo, Estate of Tetsumi Kudo / ARS (NY) / ADAGP Paris 2020. Photo by Pierre Le Hors. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth, New York / Los Angeles / Z

“Portraits of Our Time” 

Hauser & Wirth, New York / Los Angeles / Zürich / London / Somerset / Hong Kong / St. Moritz / Gstaad / Southampton / Monaco / Menorca

Hauser & Wirth’s group showcase titled “Portraits of Our Times” highlights diverse approaches to the figure. Cindy Sherman presents photographs from her collaboration with Harper’s Bazaar for which she dressed up as Instagram street-style influencers, while Louise Bourgeois’s fabric-head sculpture demonstrates the artist’s internal struggles through distorted expressions, and neo-dadaist Tetsumi Kudo’s 1978 sculpture Meditation Between Memory and Future consists of an ape’s head trapped inside a cage. 

ANISH KAPOOR, Apple Red and Lime Mix to Purple Candy Satin, 2019, aluminum and paint, 210 × 210 × 24.5 cm. Courtesy Lisson Gallery, London / New York / Shanghai.

Lisson Gallery, London / New York / Shanghai

Lisson Gallery’s booth focuses on vivid colors and abstract compositions. In addition to new works by British sculptor Anish Kapoor and neo-pop artist Julian Opie, the booth showcases Brazilian pioneer Hélio Oticica’s early gouache-on-board paintings, Untitled (Grupo Frente) (1955) and Untitled (Metaesquema) (1957–58), which are experiments with geometric shapes and spatial representation.

TRACEY EMIN, I Made My Way To You, 2020, neon, 64.4 × 250 cm. Copyright the artist / DACS 2020. Photo by Ollie Hammick / White Cube. Courtesy White Cube, London / Hong Kong / New York / Paris.

White Cube, London / Hong Kong / New York / Paris

Alongside new works by Damien Hirst ahead of his upcoming show in Hong Kong, White Cube is featuring around 40 works, including a tapestry by poet and painter Etel Adnan, a human-shaped sculpture by Antony Gormley, and one of Takis’s Signal sculptures from 1978. Tracey Emin’s I Made My Way To You (2020) spells out the titular phrase in her signature pink neon.

West Bund Art & Design will be on view at West Bund Art Center and West Bund Dome from November 11 to 14, 2021.


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