Shanghai hosts one of the most diverse art scenes in the world. On any given week you can experience international and local exhibitions ranging from the highbrow to the deepest underground movements. As Shanghai is a city known for its history of influential women in all fields, it’s no surprise that some of the most unique work is coming from its female residents. Here are seven important names to look out for.
Kiki Zhu, like her work, is a woman of many eras. Her drawings, paintings, and hand-crafted jewelry simultaneously evoke nostalgia and a sharp modernity that makes her immediately recognizable. Originally from Hunan province, Kiki has made an impact wherever she has gone. In 2012, she had a solo exhibition in Dali, Yunnan, which showcased fifty portraits of people living in the area. The exhibition showcased an intimate cross-section of people highlighting their physical traits and personalities. Since her residence in Shanghai, her art has been displayed at the We Love Shanghai Charity Art Sale in September 2015 and the Girls Dark Arts Festival in October 2015.
Camille comes to Shanghai from France. She is a skilled photographer with a background in graphic design, an in-depth knowledge of camera technology, and a unique vision. She only uses analog film to create her work, making stunning use of color. She seeks to recreate an empathetic connection to nature in her work with landscapes, and a look into the human condition in her pictures of people.
Ray Ren is a young photographer from the south of China who, after working in Beijing for two years, came to Shanghai for work and never left. Her style focuses on lines and angles that capture a moment’s emotion so perfectly, that it is impossible to tell if the photo was caught in a moment of actual human experience, or simply created by the artist to express a feeling. Ray was also featured at the Ephemeral Exhibition. To see more and keep up to date with future displays of her work, you can visit her website.
Geneviève is an influential artist based in Shanghai, but her work is so extensive that it’s a little hard to keep track of. Originally from France, Geneviève is a writer, as well as a director and producer of feminist theatre, and expresses herself through words, choreography, and visual art. Her ambitious and trilingual theatre piece, 99 Women, was performed in October 2015 in Shanghai at The Children’s Art Theater of China Welfare to great acclaim. A five year resident of Shanghai, she has written a book, Shanghai Zen, which details the streets of the city from a walking perspective (available in French, English, and Chinese).
Ai is a half-Japanese half-Chinese visual artist who has been residing in Shanghai for almost six years. Her visual art focuses on dynamic facial expressions. In many works, the faces are obscured by other elements in the picture, which shows the concealed nature of emotions. Primarily utilizing a mix of varnish and watercolor, her work often incorporates a dose of chaos which seems to make the emotions she is trying to capture all the more authentic. Ai’s work in available for view and purchase in shops and yoga studios dotted across Shanghai.
Renée “Frankie” Maue is a visual artist who specializes in colorful pieces based on the meditative art of Mandala (an Indian symbol denoting the universe). Frankie grew up in a small town outside of Buffalo, New York, and has been in Shanghai for around four years. She currently doesn’t exhibit in galleries, but you will see her work if you attend the Shanghai event Dragon Burn (a festival similar to the USA’s Burning Man) or participate in the feminist group, Ladyfest. Influenced by a background in design studies, her art focuses heavily on sacred geometry (a type of geometry used in the design of religious structures).
For those looking to experience something truly hip and modern, Tin.G and the OOPS crew are well-known Shanghai-based street artists. Tin.G is a Shanghai native who describes her exposure to and subsequent foray into the graffiti art scene as life-changing. Pop culture references abound in her work and she brings a flash of color to an otherwise gray urban jungle. Tin.G also works as an illustrator for children’s books, which gives her a sharper detail than many other street artists and a quality in her drawing that makes her images to come to life. You can see some more of her work on her website.