Shanghai’s art scene is young, vibrant, and flourishing. Easily the best art in Shanghai is located in the city’s independent art galleries. Though small, they are motivated to attract world class artists from China and abroad. These art havens are not to be overlooked.
Founded in 2006, AroundSpace Gallery devotes itself to discovering and promoting Chinese contemporary artists. Originally located in the former art district on Weihai Lu, the gallery is now housed in a Bund-side building, making it perfect for tourists trying to escape the bustle of the riverside. The artists that the gallery represents range from established abstract painters to up and coming sculptors.
The name Hakgojae derives from a Confucian saying “to review the old to learn the new.” Founded in Seoul, South Korea in 1988, the gallery has since opened a branch in Shanghai in order to cement its status as “a leading exhibitor of historical and modern art in both Korea and China.” The gallery is constantly welcoming new artists but has an ongoing relationship with artists such as Yun Suknam, the godmother of Korean feminist art, performance artist Ma Liuming, and Tian Liming, leading artist of modern day Chinese ink painting.
Highlighting contemporary artists from China and abroad, Art + Shanghai focuses on themes accessible to both a local and global audience. Wanting to pushing boundaries, the gallery also aims to educate the public about bold art through intimate artist talks and private concerts. There is an art library onsite, which plays host to a regular program of cultural events.
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-7pm, or by appointment
Located in Shanghai’s famous M50 contemporary art district, the Leung Gallery showcases the personal work of the Leung family ( Father Ken H. Leung and his two sons Thomas and Richard) and features original art works, print editions, and fine ceramics. Ken H. Leung may be the most talented of the three, with vibrant oil paintings depicting China’s natural beauty. The gallery may not be as avant-garde as some of its neighbors, but it is well worth a stop if you are in the area.
OCAT art center, located north of Suzhou Creek, is well funded by a real estate group and focuses on new media work, filling a welcome void in Shanghai’s contemporary saturated art scene. It launched in 2012 with a solo show by Yang Fudong and has seen a steady stream of impressive exhibits since. The center helped launch the Pierre Huber Art Prize for new media artists.
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday 11am-7pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-9pm
In the case of Je Fine Art Gallery, fine art should not be characterized as stale or lifeless. Founded in 2014, this gallery emphasizes the creative, young, and energetic nature of fine art, gathering the work of young Chinese artists as well as that of outstanding foreign artists. It is located in the former French Concession, an area with a current dearth of independent art galleries.
Contemporary art gallery M97, named for its original location at No. 97 Moganshan Rd, aims to exhibit the most interesting and innovative photography work in China. Founded in 2006, M97 is one of the largest independent art galleries in the country and is currently housed in a renovated 1940s factory building in popular expat district Jing’an.
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm, or by appointment
Presenting its first exhibition in 1996, ShanghART Gallery is one of the oldest and most influential independent art galleries in China. It has set the tone for the presentation and interpretation of contemporary Chinese art in both national and international contexts. It features more than 40 artists, including the acclaimed Zhou Tiehai, Ding Yi, Yang Fudong, Zhang Ding, Birdhead, Sun Xun and Xu Zhen.