The Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai is a little haven in the heart of People’s Square with its towering skyscrapers, traffic congestion and crowd. MOCA is not a large building and certainly not the most impressive in Shanghai’s ultra-modern cityscape, but it is a wonderful oasis with a charm of its own. The glass façade of this unassuming architectural jewel, sitting in the midst of a jade green garden, reflects the colours of the sky day and night. From Nanjing West Road, you turn right on number 7 People’s Park and you will see Shanghai’s Art Museum’s historic clock tower. Colourful neon lights usher you along a romantic path towards the museum, farther and farther away from Shanghai’s noisy traffic. Looking over your shoulder, you will see the waterfront bar Barbarossa half-hidden behind the park and hear its lively clientele from a distance. MOCA, with its picturesque setting, is an escape from the din of urban life. A perfect place for you to get away from it all, MOCA is where you can experience China’s contemporary art and get a taste of Shanghai’s multi-faceted culture and fascinating lifestyle.
Though its exhibition space is not huge, MOCA has a yearly programme packed with international and local interests. This year’s exhibitions included Tino Sehgal’s performances, works by up-and-coming local artists, a Chanel exhibition curated by the contemporary art and design world’s personality Jean-Louis Froment, collateral events with the Venice Biennale and much more. Right now, you can see fashion photographer Chen Man’s largest solo exhibition in China to date. One of the country’s most high-profile artists in recent years, Chen Man straddles the fine line between fashion and artistic photography, with works appearing in fashion editorials, advertising and worldwide exhibitions.
MOCA also gives new artists an equal chance to showcase their work and it is where you can see some interesting abstract art by Chinese painters and sculptors. In “Tao of Nature,” 18 artists explored the role and value of nature in modern China. MOCA’s glass structure sitting in a zen-like garden seems to be the perfect place to ponder this theme. Wu Shaoyin, Jiang Dahai, Tan Ping and Huang Yuanqing’s monochromatic, bright colours form a still backdrop to a moving subject that looks like a shadow or movement.
Meng Luding, Chen Qiang, Ding Yi and Yin Ge seemed to see nature as a driving force, drawing your attention into their canvas with repeating patterns like a grid, dots or concentric circles. Nature can be frightening and unpredictable too, as seen through the eyes of Ye Fang, Li Lei, Yan Feixiang and Qi Haiping, who painted the many dark faces of a menacing storm.
After your visit, have a coffee or a light meal at the rooftop café where the outdoor seating area, weather permitting, offers a wonderful view of Shanghai’s most iconic buildings all around you. Time seems to stand still on the café’s terrace where expats, tourists and locals mingle. There is nothing like experiencing a city after seeing the art it has to offer. The Musem of Contemporary Art is a little jewel you should not miss in Shanghai.
Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai
People’s Park, 231 Nanjing West Road, Shanghai
Tel. +86 21 6327 9900
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