16 unmissable exhibitions in Shanghai this season

Shanghai Biennale, Kandinsky, Yaacov Agam and more

Photograph: Melissa Goodwin, courtesy Loie Hollowell and Pace Gallery
Shanghai’s never short of excellent art – but with so much choice where do you start? From a big retrospective of works by pioneering abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky to Loie Hollowell’s solo exhibition of autobiographical paintings to the long-awaited Shanghai Biennale Phase III: An Exhibition, here are the must-see exhibitions this season.

Good Night: Solo Exhibition of Chen Wei

An exploration of urban scenes at night, Beijing-based artist Chen Wei's solo exhibition features a collection of photographs and multimedia installations from his 2013 ‘New City’ series alongside some of his recent works in which familiar city scenes – clubs, sidewalks, bus stations – become rather strange with no one around to occupy them.

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HOW Art Museum , Lane 1 Lane 2277 Zuchongzhi Lu Every day except Monday

The Pioneer of Abstract Art: Kandinsky

The Centre Pompidou × West Bund Museum Project is presenting another heavyweight exhibition, this time bringing hundreds of paintings, drawings and engravings from pioneering abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky to Shanghai from the Centre Pompidou’s collection. Known for his abstract paintings that express feeling and music through the interplay of colours and shapes, Kandinsky is one of the major figures who changed the landscape of 20th-century art.

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West Bund Museum , 2600 Longteng Dadao Every day except Monday

Shanghai Biennale – Bodies of Water

Shanghai Biennale Phase III: An Exhibition is finally here. Opening this Saturday (April 17) and running through the end of July (Sunday 25), the exhibition occupies seven floors of the Power Station of Art as well as a series of locations along the Huangpu River and across the city. 

Under the theme Bodies of Water, the 13th Shanghai Biennale invited artists across the globe to think beyond human-centred and nation-based narratives and explore forms of fluid solidarity. In plain words, the exhibition aims to change your perception of ‘body’ and ‘water’ both in a physical and metaphorical sense.

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Power Station of Art , 200 Huayuangang Lu Every day except Monday

Grass and Colour – He Duoling Solo Exhibition

There are many factors that inform He Duoling’s works and make him such a fascinating artist. For starters, He was among the generation of students whose tertiary education was interrupted in the late ’60s before he was able to resume his studies in 1977. And, despite the fast development of contemporary art, he remains a quiet observer, taking the time to perfect his own style, integrating concepts of music, poetry, architecture and other fields of study into his oil paintings that blend Chinese and Western concepts and techniques to perfection. 

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Long Museum West Bund , 3398 Longteng Avenue Every day except Monday

Watching the Clouds Roll By – Koon Wai Bong Solo Exhibition

Making its third stop after Taipei and Beijing, Asia Art Center brings Hong Kong painter Koon Wai Bong to Shanghai for his first solo exhibition in the city. The 20-or-so works shown in the exhibition are representative of Koon’s unique style that follows a long tradition of Chinese ink painting combined with Western modernism. Bamboo is a recurring motif in Koon’s paintings, reflecting the artist’s aspiration to be close to nature and the pursuit of inner peace and tranquility shared by ancient scholar-bureaucrats, poets and artists through time.

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Asia Art Center , 50 Moganshan Lu Every day except Monday,Sunday

Loie Hollowell: Recalibrate

The repetition of geometric forms, compositional symmetry, varied surface textures and vibrant hues… These are the distinctive visual language elements of American artist Loie Hollowell whose autobiographical paintings often address her embodiment of pregnancy, in particular, ‘the transfiguring of the female body in stages of prenatal and postpartum existence’. Showcasing 15 large-scale paintings from her latest series Plumb Line, created between 2018 and 2020, this will be her first solo museum exhibition and her debut presentation in China.

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Long Museum West Bund , 3398 Longteng Avenue Every day except Monday

Yaacov Agam – Living Images

Discover the wealth of Yaacov Agam’s creativity in an exhibition designed for both adults and kids at the Playground inside West Bund Museum. Adapted from Agam’s installation The Salon Agam (currently housed in the Musée National d'Art Moderne inside Centre Pompidou in Paris), Living Images transforms the Playground into a kaleidoscope of shapes and colours that is in perpetual transformation as the viewer moves.

Born in 1928 in Israel, Yaacov Agam is an active figure in painting, sculpture, video-making, digital works and a pioneer of kinetic art. Click here to buy tickets.

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West Bund Museum , 2600 Longteng Dadao Every day except Monday

Tadao Ando: Endeavors

Catch the retrospective exhibition of world-renowned architect Tadao Ando at Fosun Foundation Shanghai. A comprehensive look a some of the architect’s most iconic designs, the show features photos, models, sketches, drawings, calligraphy works, carvings, documentary videos, as well as travel notes. Take time to admire a replica of the Church of the Light on the first floor –  a fantastic illustration of Ando’s ingenious architectural style.

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Fosun Foundation Shanghai , 600 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu Every day except Monday

China Cabinet: A Project by Theaster Gates

Prada is bringing another solo exhibition to Rong Zhai. This time, the mansion will house Chicago-based potter, ceramist, urban planner, visual artist and professor (among other titles) Theaster Gates. Showing a body of ceramic works in three chapters, visitors will be able to dive into his creative process, understand elements he frequently uses in his practice and identify symbolism that is usually associated with civil rights activism and African-American identity.

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Prada Rong Zhai , No. 186 Shaanxi Bei Lu Every day except Monday

We=Link: Sideways

The second part of CAC’s We=Link program (inaugurated in February 2020 in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19) shows 22 ‘net art’ works made by 28 artists and collectives over the past three decades. From the first artist-run Bulletin Board System in 1991 to the current production, the exhibition features a collection of artefacts of early Chinese Internet culture from the late 1990s and early 2000s. It takes a deep dive into this avant-garde art form that continues to flourish and evolve with the development of the Internet. 

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Chronus Art Center , 50 Moganshan Lu Every day except Monday,Tuesday

The Drawn Out Moment: Shi Guowei Solo Exhibition

The first SCoP exhibition of 2021 presents a solo retrospective of Beijing-based artist Shi Guowei, featuring a collection of photo-paintings he's made since 2006. Each photo-painting involves a lengthy process – taking several months to complete – in which Shi takes a large-format photograph in black-and-white and colours it manually from memory (what he calls ‘emotional colour’).

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Shanghai Center of Photography , 2555 Longteng Dadao Every day except Monday

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The best burgers in Shanghai

From classic cheeseburgers to creative plays and the gourmet restaurant offerings, here's where to sink your teeth into the city's beefiest burgers

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By: Rupert Hohwieler

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