Friday, January 18, 2013

Under Construction

Such is the pace of expansion of Shanghai's cultural infrastructure that today my meetings took place in one museum that's just opened, another that's just about to, an office under chaotic renovation and a concert hall that ten years ago was moved 65 metres to the left to make way for a flyover. 
First up was a meeting with Wei Wang, the charming, killer-heeled wife of billionaire investor Liu Yiqian. The couple are proud owners of a fantastic Chinese art collection, lovingly amassed over 20 years. Better to show it off than keep it private, so they've built the beautiful state-of-the-art Long Museum, currently the largest private museum in China, out in Pudong. The opening selection features blue-chip Chinese contemporary art on the ground floor; Modernist works from the first half of the 20th century plus heroic, all-smiling revolutionary oil paintings from 1949-79 on the second (my favourites - it was like looking at history not art); and traditional works and ancient artefacts on the third... all in a gorgeously minimal Zhing Song-designed cube. And get this, they're building another, bigger museum downtown which will open later this year. With a Monet show. 
From there to Shanghai Concert Hall, the grand 1930s building which was literally picked up and moved a bit to make way for a flyover, then restored. In May they're going to present a weekend version of the South Bank Centre's The Rest is Noise festival (itself worthy of a post, but I'll make do with a link). 
The rest of the afternoon was spent talking about film - first with Shanghai International Film Festival in their noisy, under-renovation office; then wearing a yellow hat in the under-construction Shanghai Film Museum, which will be impressive when it's finished. This is the kind of day that makes my job such a joy.

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