Moganshan Lu (M50 Galleries)

China’s art scene has been booming in recent years, and though Beijing remains the undisputed center of the Chinese art world, Shanghai is showing signs of catching up.
Along with its growing complement of museums (the Shanghai MOCA, Shanghai Museum, Zendai Museum and Doland Museum all stage major contemporary shows, including the Shanghai Biennale) and the new ShContemporary Art Fair, Shanghai’s galleries are beginning to make a name for the city, not only in China, but internationally. And the art district off Moganshan Lu has had a lot to do with it.
Housed in a fascinating assortment of old industrial buildings within spitting distance of Suzhou Creek, the Moganshan galleries, often referred to as 50 Moganshan Lu (Mògānshān Lù wǔshí hào, 莫干山路50号) or M50, can give a first-time visitor a good idea of where China’s art scene is at. There’s blatant imitation of commercially successful Chinese artists like the Luo Brothers, Yue Minjun and Wang Guangyi; there’s played-out pop art laden with easily identifiable ironic Cultural Revolution references; and even slick abstract work suitable for a corporate lobby or designer apartment. Whatever your artistic leanings, Moganshan’s eclectic collections are almost always sure to surprise and challenge you, easily worth the cab ride to this out-of-the-way corner of Shanghai.
ShanghArt, Bizart, OV Gallery and Eastlink are among the established Moganshan galleries known for their edgy exhibitions and consistent quality, and smaller up-and-coming spaces are scattered throughout the complex, along with galleries content to sell less-challenging work that has proven popular and profitable. No matter what your tastes, Moganshan Lu is worth a visit if you’re at all interested in contemporary art in China. Give yourself at least three hours to wander about the complex. There’s a casual restaurant-café at the entrance, a steady stream of taxis and always something new and interesting to see.

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