JMPPC – New York in Shanghai

Last week, I attended the opening of the Second John Moores Painting Prize (China) 2012, on display at the Shanghai Oil Painting and Sculpture Institute until the 18th July 2012…another hidden, concrete, cubic, brutalist architectural delight here in Shanghai. I was lucky enough to get to know the JMPPC 2010 team and prize-winning artists during their visit and tour of UK in the Summer of 2011 (details of which can be read here) so it was interesting to see how the project had progressed over the past year or so.

In its second manifestation since 2010, the JMPPC was again coordinated by Ling Min of the Fine Art College of Shanghai University with an international judging panel including Lewis Biggs (Artistic Consultant), Michael Craig-Martin (artist and art educator), Tony Bevan (artist), Liu Xiao Dong (artist) and Ding Yi (artist). Chairman of the Jurors was Lewis Biggs, who I’ve met on many occasions in the UK and Shanghai for discussions about the land of contemporary Chinese art and my slowly progressing PhD research. He is involved in a lot of new initiatives here in Shanghai, including int he realm of public art, since leaving his role as Director of the Liverpool Biennial…that contemporary art festival actually opens pretty soon in the UK, I must catch it in the Autumn (writing myself a note in my diary). It was great to see Lewis in Shanghai again, albeit briefly. The prize-winning artists this year were Nie Zhengjie, Hu Wenlong, Zheng Jiang, Pu Yingwei and Zhang Aicun who will form part of the exhibition John Moores Painting Prize at Walker Art Gallery from 15th September 2012 to 6th January, 2013, which is one of the highlights of the Liverpool Biennial. The range of work and skills chosen this year seemed very different to the 2010 selection. There seemed to be more confident, personal examinations of the self and interactions with interior and exterior space, along with the use of ritualistic mark-making techniques and obsessive pattern construction. Most of the works seemed internalised and “individual” in a sense…more for the self than the people. A few highlights for me included:

Pu Yingwei ‘Desire’ (2012), Oil on Canvas, 200cm x 200cm – Prize winner
Li Hua, ‘A Glance of City No. 8’ (2012) 150cm x 120cm x 300cm, 250cm x 160cm, Oil on Canvas and Acrylic on Paper
Detail from: Li Hua, ‘A Glance of City No. 8’ (2012) 150cm x 120cm x 300cm, 250cm x 160cm, Oil on Canvas and Acrylic on Paper
Yu Lei, ‘No. 7’ (2012) 175cm x 120cm, Oil on Canvas
Lin Sen, ‘Goodbye, Cambodia’ (2012), 20cm x 20cm each, sketch on paper
Lin Sen, ‘Goodbye, Cambodia’ (2012), 20cm x 20cm each, sketch on paper
Ai Guo, ‘History’ (2012) 130cm x 250cm, Acrylic on Canvas

At the opening event for the JMPPC, I met three artists Cory Dixon, Megan Ewert and Nicolas Sanchez from the New York Academy of Art who are currently doing the ‘Micro Residency of Art (MRA)’ with the Fine Art College of Shanghai University. They have been based in Shanghai nearly a month now to create new work, which yesterday culminated in a group exhibition ‘Mutual Interests 1’ at the 99 Art Center in the m50 art district on Moganshan Lu. They will all be going on to Beijing next for a further month, continuing the residency at the renowned Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). Again, much like what I saw in the JMPPC, their practice was based on traditional investigations of the self and really special to see. Here and there you could see influences from their Chinese experience both in a literal, physical sense of visual representation, but also through thinking and concept. I was completely blown away by Nicolas‘s pen drawings that used one of those pens that has four different colour options. The Chinese portraits were housed in a Moleskine notebook…the New York Academy of Art series in a handmade book, actually the first book that Nicolas had ever made, a beautiful specimen too! I love anything artists’ books and book arts though so this really struck a chord with me. I hope to catch up with them all on the flip side of my UK trip when they are in Beijing to see what they have created there…I wondered how much their practice will have changed? Until late July…

Megan Ewert
Detail from painting by Megan Ewert
Cory Dixon
Cory Dixon
Nicolas Sanchez
Nicolas Sanchez

Self portrait by Nicolas Sanchez
Taken from Chinese portraits series by Nicolas Sanchez
Taken from Chinese portraits series by Nicolas Sanchez
“Yi” – taken from Chinese portraits series by Nicolas Sanchez
“Megan Ewert” – Taken from Chinese portraits series by Nicolas Sanchez
“Cory Dixon” – Taken from Chinese portraits series by Nicolas Sanchez


  1. I remember all the Chinese paintings in the 2010 John Moores exhibition in Liverpool – I thought they were all outstanding, and much more interesting than almost all of the UK work, much of which was classy but not exactly exciting. So I shall look forward to seeing more of the results from the Chinese end of the John Moores collaboration being shown here in the autumn.

    1. Hi Peter, Thanks so much for your comment! Great to make further links, I would love to visit yo next time I’m in New York. I’ll no doubt be talking to and seeing the artists again soon and documenting their experiences. Best, R

  2. Reblogged this on Kraine Gallery and commented:
    During their trip to China these artists were lucky enough to meet miss Rachel Marsden, International Curator, writer and boarder hopping explorer.
    She wrote a great piece this summer (link below), and accepted our invitation to writing ANOTHER small piece to accompany our exhibition at Kraine Gallery in the East Village!

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