Art Labor and An Te Liu

an te liu poster bArt Labor is a self-funded contemporary art gallery located in the French Concession district. The gallery strives to show works by established and emerging artists from China and abroad. It was founded in 2005 by Canadian art dealer and curator Martin Kemble, and since then has established an international reputation for it’s “distinct focus on interesting and fresh programming.” This past weekend, I attended an opening vernissage of An Te Liu’s solo exhibit “The Knowing Nothing of the Thing” at Art Labor.

An Te Liu is an internationally recognized artist born in Taiwan, but lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Liu is one of Canada’s most popular contemporary artists, having shown works at The Venice Biennale and The Kunsthalle in Vienna, Austria, and San Francisco MOMA to name a few. He works with a variety of mediums to create installations and sculptures. His exhibition “The Knowing Nothing of the Thing” is also part of a larger arts festival, the 16th China, Shanghai International Arts Festival, for which he was chosen as the premier artist. IMG_5086

“The Knowing Nothing of the Thing” is an exhibit of sculptural works created using bronze, ceramics, hydro-stone and concrete. The result is 25 pieces that vary in size and color, yet all share a connection through their organic forms. Liu drew his inspiration from discarded packing materials of daily consumer goods. The aim of the exhibition is to display the connections between objects and space as it is impossible to discern what the original packing materials were intended for, but can be understood through the pieces relation to the space occupied. In one of his pieces, Liu stacks the same shape several times, organizing them into an entirely new object. Despite being able to connect the pieces to packing materials, the viewer knows nothing about them.

Art Labor’s exhibition of “The Knowing Nothing of the Thing” is an example of the way in which the Shanghai art market is becoming more internationally oriented. In an interview with Smart Shanghai, Martin Kemble stated that it was a priority of Art Labor to showcase works of international artists. One way in which Art Labor has attempted to attract national and international attention is by featuring artists with ties to China but work elsewhere. Additionally their participation with the China Shanghai International Arts Festival shows the galleries’ international agenda as well as Shanghai art market as a whole. The shift of the Shanghai art market of becoming more internationally oriented and recognized is an extremely interesting factor in the art markets development.