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Art flourishes down by the river

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-23 09:00
[Photo provided to China Daily]

An area where ships were built, where aircraft flew in and flew out and where manufacturing held sway is now a place for more idyllic pursuits.

Eight years after the Shanghai World Expo drew millions of visitors to the city, a show there on a much smaller scale but that lacks none of the dazzle is drawing art aficionados from far and wide.

The West Bund area, which is home to some of the city's most famous art establishments such as the Yuz Museum and the Long Museum, is now a thriving art community that hosts about a dozen exhibitions at any time.

The area, about 10 kilometers south of downtown Shanghai, on the western bank of the Huangpu River, across from where the 2010 World Expo was held, covers 9.4 square kilometers. It used to be an industrial zone that included shipyards, factories and a hangar. After the expo, district authorities decided to develop the western bund region into an arts and cultural center.

"I have seen the area really grow," says Grace Zhang, deputy director of Yuz Museum. "When we opened in 2014 it was just us and the Long Museum."

The area received a fillip in 2015 when the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Liu Heung Shing opened the Shanghai Center of Photography there. In 2015, too, the ShanghART Gallery, a leading light in the city's contemporary art scene, and MadeIn Company, headed by the contemporary artist Xu Zhen, set up shop in the West Bund, and other galleries and studios have followed suit.

One of the events that best highlights the area's artistic nature is the West Bund Art and Design fair that has taken place every first week of November since 2014. This year the fair will take place from Nov 8 to 11.

Last year 70 galleries, studios and institutions from 17 countries took part. During the event, artworks and installations were exhibited beyond the confines of the museums and in public spaces all over the West Bund area. A new talent section to the fair was introduced last year, featuring emerging artists through a series of solo exhibitions or group shows.

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