Thursday, March 24, 2011

Alex Katz in Shanghai

     by Anne Lykes
      Friday, March 18 saw the opening of a show of Alex Katz's recent
works at the James Cohan Gallery.  I was meeting a friend there for the
Friday evening opening, and after getting a cab to Yueyang Lu and Jianguo Xi
Lu, which the gallery was supposed to be near, I wandered around the French
Concession for a while quite lost until I turned down the empty lane that
lead to the James Cohan Gallery.  The building itself is a gem tucked away
in an otherwise ordinary lane.  In the dark I was not able to get as great a
sense of the place as I would have liked, but the light that spilled out of
the buzzing show cast around a quaint-looking courtyard that had about as
much greenery as I have seen in Shanghai.

Inside, the rooms were detailed with original-looking crown molding,
beautiful parquet floors and intricate metalwork.  This space serves as a
perfect backdrop for the small show, which is focused around five large
portraits and several groups of prints.  The real standout painting of the
show is a self-portrait entitled "Black Hat (Alex)," which was painted in
2010.  An important American artist associated with the Pop Art movement,
Katz painted this rendition of himself at 83, and its bold yellow background
and simple palette showcase his strong style.  Other standout pieces are the
prints, both woodcut and linocut.  Particularly impressive are the
"Twilight" woodcut series, which meditate on changing light and reflections.

The opening was a lively event, filled with a wide variety of people.  Walking
around the rooms, conversations could be heard in both English and Chinese,
with bits of other European languages picked up here and there.  The crowd
appeared to be nearly equal-part Westerner and Chinese, and many of the
guests seemed to know each other.  The creative atmosphere certainly added
to the evening, and the fact that an American artist of such high caliber
has a show of this level speaks greatly to Shanghai's international art

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