State-run and curated by Fan Di’An, Li Lei, Gao Shiming (for the first time, all Chinese nationals), the 2010 Shanghai Biennale’s theme is “Rehearsal.” Much of the work makes transparent the art of exhibition/performance and the creative process. At the Shanghai Art Museum, there are 52 individual artists and artists’ groups/collectives from about 21 countries, the largest group (19) predictably, from China, 18 from Europe, and 10 from other Asian countries. The remaining are from Australia, Cuba, and the United States (surprisingly only from the East Coast given the West Coast’s proximity and Shanghai’s sister city status with San Francisco). In the short time I was there, the stand-outs for me were sculptures by Mu Boyan, particularly from his Fat series (reminiscent of Lisa Yuskavage, but taken to an entirely different level), the paintings by Liu Xiaodong, along with supplemental materials of how they were created, and the painting installations, a unique way of presenting painted canvases, attempting to capture how media images absorb us, by MadeIn (CEO: Xu Zhen).
The Shanghai Biennale closes January 23, 2011 at the Shanghai Art Museum in People’s Park and includes off-site venues (at 128 West Nanjing Road and 79 & 107 South Suzhou Road) for Place – Time – Play: India-China Contemporary Art Exhibition.