After keeping Shanghai art lovers waiting for more than a year and a half, the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) has finally reopened its doors with a dazzling retrospective of John Armleder. Entitled Again, Just Again, the exhibition explores five decades of the successful career of the contemporary Swiss artist.

Born in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1948, Armelder is a man of many talents: painter, performer, sculptor, archivist, collector, curator, publisher and gallery owner. Inspired by the Fluxus movement in the 60s and 70s, he co-founded Groupe Ecart, a publishing house, bookstore and gallery that collaborated with artists like Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol.

Photography: Yu Zhiming

Start your tour of his extensive work on the fifth floor, where an archive of posters, drawings, and mundane objects from his Ecart era are on display. There is also a site specific wall drawing adapted to the architecture of RAM painted on this floor.


Photography: courtesy of the Rockbund Art Museum

Downstairs in the lobby on the fourth floor, you will be surrounded by a spectacle of light and reflections. Suspended in the center is a giant disco ball, slowly spinning and reflecting a spotlight. Under the disco ball are some broken mirrors. The entire floor is covered with a metallic silver floor and mosaic paintings made with reflective materials hang on the walls. At the end of the hall, you’ll find a recreation of his 1988 work “Furniture Sculpture 185 with Stéphane Armleder,” in which two Brooks Brothers costumes hang from a tri-fold mirror.


Photography: courtesy of the Rockbund Art Museum

The entire third floor has been transformed into a fictional ’90s park with curved walls, a pavilion and fountain with a fake mountain inside – birds chirp as Armleder’s paintings appear at unexpected turns . This floor is the first collaboration between the artist and Chinese fashion photographer Leslie Zhang who designed the beautiful staging.


Photography: Yu Zhiming

The exhibition hall on the second floor houses the only work of moving images in the exhibition. An endless kaleidoscopic motif, the piece was filmed in Geneva, the artist’s hometown, during a fireworks display one summer. It’s an example of how Armleder turned chance encounters into art throughout his career.

Besides the video work, this showroom houses dozens of ready-made paintings, sculptures and works that follow a Fluxus spirit, redefining what can be considered art and some of them are quite playful. (an enlarged cat tower, anyone?).


Photography: courtesy of the artist (John Armleder, Rose Bank, 2021, Christmas trees, Dimensions variable)

Surprises are scattered throughout the exhibition – a bunch of clothes, a bunch of packing materials, a bunch of artificial plants. These seemingly random displays of ‘waste’, titled ‘Accumulation’, exemplify Armleder’s penchant for capturing everyday moments with everyday objects.

Plot ? John Armleder: Again, Just Again is now playing at the Rockbund Art Museum through Sunday, December 19.


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Museums and historic sites published on October 27, 2021

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