2015.09.18 Fri, by Translated by: 陈煜峰
Small and Beautiful: Art in the City’s Second Year

The project of Donna Chai, Massimo Torrigiani (both formerly of SHContemporary) and Bizart founder Davide Quadrio, Art in the City has been trying to redefine the ordinary fair model, instead proposing a combination of an art promotion platform, agency for art-related events for companies and brands, and an “art fair” (the organizers prefer to call it a “curated selling exhibition”). Their aim is to keep the momentum going throughout the year, promoting gallery events through the platform and holding talks and private events with collectors, rather than try to whip up a frenzy for galleries one week out of the year. The “fair” element of the platform—the Art in the City Festival held annually in the basement of K11—is also novel in that it is giving a boost to the local art ecosystem working primarily with more emerging art spaces such as 1933 Contemporary, Gallery 55, Inna Art Space, and Ren Space (along with more established spaces like Art Labor). In terms of the Shanghai “art week” in September, Art in the City is thus trying to carve out a niche in relation to West Bund Art and Design Fair, with more international and blue-chip galleries, and Photo Shanghai, with its focus on photography (indeed, it is telling to notice the glee of at least one gallerist who last year was at Art in the City and this year made the cut for West Bund).

In contrast to the bling and sparkle of most art fairs, Art in the City leans towards subtle paintings or works on paper such as Vay Hy’s liquiform abstract ink works at FQ Projects. There was a good showing of paintings from the young artists of 1933 Contemporary and also Meta Gallery on Wuyuan Lu. Even “The Gallery”—a space which often showed paintings of bulbous-faced Chinese children—put in a rather nice effort with some subtler works on paper by Fan Borong and Ding Wenqing. The festival was organized around the theme “Stop Making Sense” in order “to explore the surreal relationship between artists, our living environment, and change.” Perhaps it delivered on this promise as it tried to encompass such a wide array of ideas—“biographies and autobiographies”, “cities and landscapes”, “small communities and our cosmopolitan world”, “heritage and the way we absorb it”—that its meaning became somewhat diluted.

Still, it is a valiant effort to try to attach some sort of meaning to the miscellany which normally constitutes an art fair. In addition to the physical exhibition panel discussions and talks were initiated on the topics of galleries working with the emerging market, post-internet art, and “Blast” an open call for new media art which will eventually be shown at MoCA pavilion and tour to various locations in the city.

(All photos below are from Art in the City; photos by Luigi Laurenzi)