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Shanghai's galleries reopen after Covid-19 with optimistic spate of spring shows

Temperature and health QR code checks at the entrance are still required

Visitors at the opening of View of Ding Li on 12 April at MadeIn Gallery, Shanghai © Madein Gallery

A month after Shanghai began to ease out of a lockdown that started late January, nearly all of its art museums and commercial galleries have reopened, with a number debuting new exhibitions this weekend. Today, Almine Rech reopens its Bund adjacent space with Spring, an 11-artist group show including Vivian Springford, Li Qing and Zhang Wei. The bright-paletted show splits into sections for figurative and abstract paintings (until 6 June).

Li Qing,Images of Mutual Undoing and Unity Bacchus, (2018) © Qing LI; Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech

Local stalwarts ShanghArt reopened its flagship location at the West Bund Art and Design Centre by appointment only on 17 March, and on 12 April debuted group show Cache: From B to Z (until 12 June). The 38-artist or collective show includes musings on lockdown by Hu Jiemin and older work exploring isolation by Liu Weijian. No consumables necessitating mask removal were served, and contact registration and temperature and health QR code checks at the entrance necessitated a (physically distanced) queue. Over in the nearby West Bund galleries building, MadeIn and Don also held subdued public reopening on 12 April, respectively of solo shows by Ding Li and Xiang Zhenhua.

Hu Jieming, ROYGBIV Series: Red #1 (2020) © the artist

At the M50 Moganshan Lu gallery complex, a few gallery employees are rumoured to have been able to go to their offices and invite collectors as early as late February, and most spaces are now open to the public. Vanguard Gallery reopened on 3 March, though sales have been “very quiet” says the gallery's owner Lise Li. The gallery opened its new show High Fidelity of works by the painter Chen Xingye on 11 April (until 9 May). “We hadn't gotten any notification about reopening, we just checked with M50 management many times until they told us that we can come to work but visitors can't enter when I asked them for the first time in February,” Li says. “Fortunately, the landlord promised to offer two months’ rent free, but we needed to send a proposal and wait for a reply, now we are waiting for the reply, so I don't know if we can be lucky or not.” She details that M50 now checks visitors temperatures and health codes and logs their contacts at the entrance of the complex. Tomorrow, M50's Gallery 55 opens Emergency Exit: Affectionately Yours (until 10 May), featuring 12 Chinese artists including Ju Anqi and Fu Xiaodong reflecting on their current fears.

A few of the city’s art spaces remain dark though due to landlord specifications or staff unable to return to China since it closed reentry to all foreign nationals, including legal residents. For downtown Capsule Gallery, situated in a historic villa nestled deep within a residential lane, reopening required permission from the compound management. “With some restrictions on the numbers of visitors, under the understanding that I'll have to file their contacts and make sure of temperature checks and collect their data, I could finally announce a by-appointment soft reopening," on 9 April, says the gallery's founder Enrico Polato.