Renovated from the architectural scraps of history, Shanghai's colossal art museums can leave quite an impression with its overall size . However, their art palaces can hardly overshadow the small private galleries snaked throughout the metropolis city. Over the years I found myself revisiting the same galleries due to the curator's eye for unique pieces, and also the way in which they presented them in order to evoke the artist's emotion. Below you can take a trip down my memory lane to some of my favorite galleries.
The labyrinth streets of Shanghai can lead to some fascinating discoveries and unforgettable memories. One of those memories took place on a sunny afternoon dressed to impress in wedges not befit for a long journey. After combing through the area several times over in search of Bank Gallery I crossed the street hoping a nearby security guard could assist me.
"Do you know where this gallery is?" I asked, flashing him the address on my phone with much desperation in my eyes.
He flung his finger behind him pointing somewhere in the distance of the lane houses.
Walking down the path behind his tiny booth I soon encountered a group of elderly locals laughing, and shouting as they played mahjong in a communal building shaded by a canopy of trees. The area was quiet and peaceful a starking difference from the bustling streets not far away.
I wandered through the lane noticing several of the houses were renovated into art studios, shops and even a little cafe. One of those renovated lane houses was Capsule Shanghai tucked into the corner of a dead end. The gallery was sealed away by a heavy grey door with the name Capsule fixated on the door's panel. This clearly wasn't Bank Gallery, but nonetheless this little discovery intrigued me to investigate further. After failing to tug the door open I debated for a moment whether not to ring the doorbell. A door bell's sole purpose in life is to be rung and alert it's owners whether to run or hide or welcome in their unexpected guests. What did I have to lose? I rang the doorbell hoping for an answer, and one was sent with the sound of the door unlocking. Unfortunately due to my noodle arms I couldn't pry open the heavy door.
"The door is open" said a voice through the speaker.
"It won't open." I replied.
"Try again." she said.
The green light went off to indicate it was unlocked, but nonetheless I still failed to open it. After a few attempts the manager came to rescue me from myself. Turns out all I needed to do was push not pull (insert judgement). The manager greeted me with a laugh and said I wasn't the only one to get into a fight with this door. As she welcomed me in I was in awe of the zen view of bamboo leaves billowing down above us, and a wooden walkway snaking through the open garden to the front door of the gallery. Was I still in Shanghai?
The peaceful view from the garden benches was merely an added bonus to the galleries rotating exhibitions. Every exhibition brings in a new atmosphere as the curators work diligently to transform the gallery in order to bring forth the emotion the artist wants to arouse through their work. Capsule Shanghai is an art gallery worth visiting continuously throughout the year.
When you're finish visiting you can enjoy a crafted cup of coffee at a small cafe a few houses down, but you have to keep your eye open for it or you'll miss it!
Address: 275 Anfu Road Building 16, Xuhui District 徐汇区安福路 275 弄 16 号
Metro: Line 7/1 Changre Road Exit 8, 7或11号线 常热路 8号出口
Hours: Monday to Sunday 12:00 -20:00
Entrance Fee: Free
Shun Art Gallery
Clear skies and warm weather makes for a lovely day to visit Shun Art Gallery as the trees create a canopy to cool you from the sun. I've discovered some of the best galleries are hidden in places you would never expect them to be. Shun Art Gallery is no exception to this. When you arrive in the lane house you are presented with a beautiful view of a brick building, and far off to the corner, down a poorly lit hallway nestled in the back on the first floor is Shun Art Gallery. Upon entering the hallway entrance of the building you may feel a little skeptical, and even presume you've arrived in the wrong area but I assure you you are head in in the right direction. Outside of the gallery are posters of past exhibitions amongst some rusty bikes, and the ayi ascending or descending the staircase. Remember, never judge a book by it's cover, because when you open the doors to Shun Art Gallery you are welcomed by Mao Hui the manager of the chic gallery. The inside is brightened with it's white walls adorned with contemporary art work from Japan.
During my second visit, Mao Hui, the manager of the gallery walked me through and gave me a short introduction of the different art works on display. Shun is the owner of the gallery, who frequents Japan to discover emerging and prominent Japanese artists. She will curate items to bring back to Shanghai and share to the public and art enthusiasts. As well she will create exhibitions to show the young emerging talent of China and Asia.
Address: 1363 Fuxing Middle Road Building 3, Room 108, Xuhui District 徐汇区复兴中路1363弄3号108室
Metro: Line 7/1 Changre Road Exit 4, 7或11号线 常热路 4号出口
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 -18:00, Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Entrance Fee: Free
Snap Art Gallery
Recently my friend and I ventured to the bustling streets of the Bund to visit the Exit Plan group exhibition at Snap Gallery. The intimate gallery is located up a flight of antique wooden stairs. When you ascend the stairs you're quickly pulled back into the modern 21st century as your eyes feast upon the gold plated name of the gallery, white washed walls, and secured frosted glass door. Behind those frosted doors was the unpredictable nature that characterizes Shanghai.
Rings the doorbell
Turns to friend.
"They're open right?"
"They should be it's Saturday."
Rings the doorbell again
(Clearly I'm relentless with doors).
Rings the door bell.
At last the door opened to a little boy running about and a man with long hair in a very snazzy outfit chasing after him.
"Uh....are you open?"
"Actually no. We are closed on the weekend umm..."
"Did you come here just for this exhibition?"
"Okay, no problem please come in".
I had no clue they were closed on the weekends, which is rather odd for galleries in Shanghai. This gallery likes to spice up life in Shanghai by closing on the weekends, and reopening its doors Monday to Friday. Despite this oddity, we were lucky someone was even there. The manager was very kind and showed us around the gallery introducing a few pieces to us. The set up of this exhibition was well designed. All of the curated pieces flowed perfectly through the gallery from beginning to end. Towards the end of our little invasion tour the manager spoke with us about art and the gallery's collaboration with NYC's School of Visual Arts. The gallery acts as a platform for young emerging artists in Shanghai to share their works. I recommend visiting this gallery, but of course not on the weekends.
Address: 294 Sichuan Middle Road, Floor 2, Huangpu District 黄浦区四川中路294号2楼
Metro: Line 2/10 East Nanjing Road Exit 7, 2或10号线 南京东路 7号出口
Hours: Monday to Friday
Entrance Fee: Free
Rockbund Art Museum
The Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) has turned a glorious historical building into a six story contemporary art gallery. RAM is centered amongst the restless streets of the city and within walking distance to other galleries near the Bund in Huangpu. When you enter into RAM you can purchase your tickets on the first floor then begin your Weekend Art Workout by ascending the curved stairs. The staircase will take you to each floor hosting an exhibit. The gallery is handicap friendly as they have an elevator and provide wheelchairs on the first floor. If you are able to use the stairs I recommend doing so as there's a rewarding experience once you've reached the sixth floor to the rooftop with a glimpse of the Pearl Tower. I've visited RAM a few times, and have generally enjoyed their exhibitions including Song Dong's I Don't Know the Mandate of Heaven. Their most recent exhibition displaying Tobia Rehberger transformed the inside of the gallery including a bar on the sixth floor, which was a collaborative effort with Blackbird. Make sure to place RAM on your list during a trip to the Bund.
Address: 20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, 黄浦区四虎丘路20号
Metro: Line 2/10 East Nanjing Road Exit 6, 2或10号线 南京东路 6号出口
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00-18:00, last admission 17:30
Entrance Fee: 50 RMB, 20 RMB Teachers and students with a valid ID,
Free Seniors 70+ and Children 7 and below, Military with valid ID, and people with disabilities
M50 is a creative maze bringing together artists, curators, and art enthusiasts. Down each hallway and around every corner you can discover a gallery, studio, shops, restaurants and cafes. The area is vibing with artsy energy from the street graffiti outside the walls to the variety of artworks housed within this creative hub. During my first visit to M50 in 2016 I talked with a man safe keeping the works of a contemporary Chinese artist influenced by taoism. In his paintings he drew little men adorned in white robes against the deep hued backgrounds of mountains, fields, and temples. Through another corridor of the creative maze I discovered Island 6 gallery. Island 6 Gallery showcases an ongoing collaborative project of multimedia artists, performers, and writers. While yet another aspect of the maze guided me to a little cafe which overlooked the plaza entrance into M50.
The only way to truly discover this unique hub is to walk inside, pick a direction and go. Please pay in mind some of these studios are used by artists and are sometimes closed to the public. However, if you can strike up a good conversation with the artists maybe you can get access into their private studio.
Address: 50 Mo Gan Shan Road Putuo District 普陀区莫干山路50号
Metro: Line 13 Jiang Ning Road Exit 2, 13线 江宁路 2号出口
Hours: Monday to Sunday depending on the Studio or Gallery
Entrance Fee: -
Never dilute your vibrance
*all photos and videos are taken by me please link my website if you choose to use them, thank you.
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