Independent art space takes over historic Shanghai bank
One of the few original pre-war bank buildings in the city now hosts exhibitions
By Lisa Movius. Web only
Published online: 27 September 2013
Shanghai is not a city that is big on preservation. What little remains of its once dense, pre-war architecture has been mostly renovated beyond recognition. An exception, however, is the 1929 Shanghai Bank Union Building on 59 Xianggang Lu (Hong Kong Road), which has retained its wood flooring and stately stairwells. Just a few blocks inland from the city’s posh historic waterfront area the Bund, the building is a former clubhouse of Chinese bankers and its second floor has been turned into an art space, aptly named Bank.
Bank is the curatorial arm of Mabsociety, a firm that produces exhibitions, cultural exchange initiatives and publications on contemporary visual arts, explains its founder Mathieu Borysevicz, a New York- and Shanghai-based curator and writer who most recently managed the commercial Shanghai Gallery of Art and organised MoCA Shanghai’s eighth anniversary show. “In the past, we were curating for other institutions and doing some pop-up exhibitions,” Borysevicz says. After working out of the 23rd floor of an office building for a year, he started looking “for a little project space to incubate some interesting programmes; four walls to create a destination for people, a project room, etc”, though Broysevicz says his organization will continue to work with other galleries, artists, collectors and institutions. “We think of ourselves as ‘post-gallery’.”
The new space had a soft opening in July with “Laowai, Allegorist-Antagonist”, an exhibition of works made by foreign artists based in China, exploring Chinese identities. The current show, “Painterly”, brings together works by 21 emerging as well as established artists that are a mix of Chinese, China-based and international, such as Paul McCarthy, Howard Hodgkin, Zhang Enli and Li Songsong. “This show discusses the idea of ‘expression’ as it is articulated through the material of paint. Simply by applying paint to something it is transformed into a work of art,” Borysevicz says. The exhibition includes video, performance, photography, installation work, however, to show “how this ‘painterly’ quality has been hijacked and parodied by other mediums,” he adds.
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