Observer’s Guide to Shanghai’s Best Art Galleries and Art Spaces

Our list of the best art galleries in Shanghai will help you see more of the city's thriving cultural scene on your next trip to China.

Installation View with a soft pastel colors paintings on pink walls and with a mosaics floor.
An installation View of Tara Walters “Ruritania” at Antenna Space, Shanghai, hosted inside the M50 Art District. Antenna Space

The Shanghai gallery scene can be difficult to navigate if you’re trying to plan ahead from outside of Mainland China—especially if you’re using Google Maps or your favorite U.S. search engine. Google doesn’t work in China, so you won’t be able to find much information, as most of those places are not indexed by the tech giant, and Apple Maps is only just starting to track these locations, sometimes without a corresponding English name. Also, there’s a good chance you won’t have heard of many of Shanghai’s galleries, as many aren’t presenting in the leading Western art circles and art fairs, even though they have solid programming and a substantial audience in Mainland China and the larger Asian region. Our list of the best art galleries in Shanghai will help you see more of the city’s thriving cultural scene on your next trip to China. For the smoothest possible experience, make sure you’re armed with a VPN, Alipay and DiDi.

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M50 Art District

View of the M50 Art District Shanghai, with walls full of colorful Street Art.
The M50 Art District in Shanghai, a creative cluster hosting galleries, artists studios and design workshops. M50 Art District Shanghai

50 Moganshan Road, Pudong District, Shanghai / 莫干山路50號

Not confined to a specific district as in some other cities, Shanghai’s art scene is vibrant and particularly diverse. The M50 art and creative cluster is a hub where over fifty galleries operate—expect that some will be totally new to you as most here cater primarily to the local market despite being significant operations that deal with some of the most in-demand Chinese artists. Here, you’ll find an interesting cross-section of emerging Shanghainese and Chinese artists working in a wide range of styles, mediums and prices. M50 is perfect for an artsy day stroll, with its graffiti walls, creative spaces, cafes and restaurants, and the fashion, furniture, and jewelry designers who also call the cluster home.

One standout example is Yibo Gallery, which has specialized in contemporary art in Shanghai since 1998. With a website primarily in Chinese and no presence on Instagram, the gallery runs and manages the market for some of the most sought-after Chinese talent, including the superstar and consistently sold-out artist Zhang Zhaoying. At the time of our visit, it was hosting “One Elongated Shot (towards Beauty),” a significant exhibition of his intricated paintings, all sold out, that freely and ingeniously blend different artistic and cultural references and symbologies.  The gallery is also active in the secondary market for Modern and Contemporary Masters (they oversee a big market for De Chirico in the region)

In the same cluster, you’ll find other galleries like Antenna Space and BLANKgallery, which savvy art lovers will have noticed at some international fairs where and is now a regular presence, with a program that mixes contemporary Chinese and Asian artists with international talent.

With its high wooden ceilings and a mosaic floor installed just for the duration of the show—apparently something easy and usual in China—Antenna Space was, during our visit, hosting the first solo exhibition in China of the ethereal soft paintings by American artists Tara Walters. The gallery was founded in 2014 and regularly presents at international fairs such as Frieze and Art Basel.

Blank Gallery focuses on Chinese emerging artists as its principal line but looks widely at Asia, presenting a quite experimental program and great research. When we visited, it was hosting an exhibition of works by Hangzhou-based artist Jiang Quyang,  featuring various format paintings playing with the motifs of willow leaves by zooming in and out, focusing on patterns and textures and blurring the concept of the subject, to the point where these objects become dynamic abstractions. The gallery regularly participates in regional fairs such as Art Shanghai, Art Beijing and Art021 Shanghai, as well as international fairs focusing on Asia, such as Asia Now in Paris.

Installation view of Jiang Quyang featuring paintings with close ups of leaves
An installation view of Jiang Quyang’s “Partical Scenary” at BLANK Gallery Shanghai. BLANK

The Amber Building (The International Galleries)

View of a red bricks elegant building in Shanghai home for Almine Rech, Perrotin and Lisson Gallery.
The Amber Building in Shanghai. Courtesy of Almine Rech. Photo: Alessandro Wang. Courtesy Almine Reech. Photo Alessandro Wang.

27 Huqiu road, huangpu district, Shanghai

This elegant red brick building in front of the Rockbund Museum hosts three of the major international galleries with venues in the Chinese city: Perrotin, Almine Rech and Lisson Gallery. The variously sized spaces function as an important contact point and vitrine to present each gallery’s program of international artists in the region. When we visited, Lisson Gallery had a small show of French artist Laure Prouvost,”Pulled Towards You,” which is running through July 13. Almine Rech was presenting the work of Inès Longevial in “Les Silences du Désir,” the second exhibition for the artist with the gallery (through July 6), while Perrotin had just had a summer group show with a selection of works from the gallery’s roster. Interestingly, other big galleries, such as Hauser & Wirth, Gagosian and David Zwirner never invested in gallery spaces but still have offices and representatives active in this important art hub in China.

Ota Fine Arts

Ota Fine Arts’ front window and entrance in the Rockabund Museum complex. Ota Fine Art

Unit QL106, 1st Floor, No. 78, Huqiu Road, Rockbund, Huangpu District, Shanghai, China 200232

Not far from Bund Central inside the Rockabound Museum complex, Ota Fine Arts opened its Shanghai space in 2017. The gallery was originally established in 1994 in Tokyo and has defined itself as a pioneer of Japanese contemporary art for over twenty-five years. Since its inception, Ota Fine Arts has promoted various Japanese artists, including internationally acclaimed Yayoi Kusama, and has expanded the variety of its artists and their works. With locations now in Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore, the gallery aims to support and present the originality and commonality of the Asian cultural belt. During our visit, the gallery was hosting a show of recent works by Kusama, which is running until July 13.

Capsule Shanghai

Exterior view of a red building inn a garden, hosting Capsule Shanghai. Photo by Ling Weizheng. Courtesy of Capsule Shanghai.
The exterior of Capsule Shanghai, which is located on the first floor of an elegant and picturesque 1930s garden house. Photo by Ling Weizheng. Courtesy of Capsule Shanghai.

1st Floor, Building 16, Anfu Lu 275 Nong, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China 200031 / 中国上海徐汇区安福路 275 弄 16 号 1 楼- 200031 

This gallery offers an Italian soul and eye in Shanghai’s French Concession neighborhood. Located on the first floor of an elegant and picturesque 1930s garden house surrounded by idyllic greenery, the gallery was established in late 2016 by Italian gallerist Enrico Polato in Shanghai’s central Xuhui District. The gallery program presents both emerging Chinese and international talents who are pushing the boundaries of contemporary art, with an emphasis on pioneering multimedia aesthetics and strong narratives. A special focus has also been given to artists who have personally and professionally migrated between regions, creating unique transnational and trans-regional links.
The gallery regularly participates in local and international fairs, including Frieze, Liste in Basel, Artissima Art Fair, MiArt in Italy and Art Bruxelles, among others. It also opened in conjunction with the Venice Biennale a new outpost in Venice, taking over a beautiful and special palace in Dorsoduro, with a private garden and windows overlooking the canal. The gallery will host four main exhibitions, curated by independent Italian curator Manuela Lietti, and a series of collateral events that will activate the space over the course of a year. When we visited, Capsule was hosting a show of mysterious paintings by Chinese young artist Yan Xinyue in “Revisit”, marking his second solo exhibition at the gallery, which will run through August 10.

Gallery Vacancy

Exhibition view of Stephanie Temma Hier show "CORRIDORS" featuring a series of sculptures made with found materials standing on pink floors.
An exhibition view of Stephanie Temma Hier’s “CORRIDORS,” the previous show at Gallery Vacancy, Shanghai. Gallery Vacancy, Shanghai

6F, 261 S Yunnan Road, Shanghai, 200021

Also originally in the French Concession neighborhood but currently in a new building in the Xintiandi Area, Gallery Vacancy was founded in November of 2017 by Lucien Y. Tso in Shanghai. The gallery’s name is a nod to its ambition: the space is waiting for fulfillment by artists with ideas and collaborations from a cross-media approach, with a particular focus on pioneering artistic research from the region. To reconnect and reconcile, the gallery space offers a non-hierarchy platform to advocate for young talents’ voices and bring together the perspectives of established and emerging artists from different contexts.

When we visited the space, they were installing the upcoming revelatory survey of Japanese artist Yuichi Yokoyama for a show opening on July 13. The gallery also participates in many international fairs, including most recently Liste Basel and Independent New York, where it presented a memorable booth of artist Michael Ho. The gallery will have a booth at the upcoming Frieze Seoul (a solo display of artist Rute Merk) and at Frieze London’s “Focus” section, a solo show of Korean painter Sun Woo.

BANK / MAB Society

Exhibition view of Shi Hui, "White Meditation" currently on view at Bank /MAB Society Shanghai, featuring standing textile sculptures dramatically lightened.
An exhibition view of Shi Hui’s “White Meditation,” currently on view at Bank /MAB Society Shanghai. Bank / MAB Society

Basement Building 2, Lane 298 Anfu Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai

BANK was originally founded as a curatorial studio in 2013 in the former Bank Union Building (est. 1925) in Shanghai’s historic Bund area. It has since moved to the Former French Concession at Anfu Lu, functioning now as the offices of MABSOCIETY as well as a commercial gallery. The gallery program emphasizes emerging or rediscovered talents from the East and the West, often functioning as a connection and thread from these two art scenes and promoting practices that look into topics of global interest. Acting as this hybrid entity between nonprofit, curation-focused and commercial, since 2013, BANK has been able to attract and include in their programming world-renowned artists like Marina Abramovic, Paul McCarthy, Isaac Julien and Hito Steyerl.

The gallery is also very much present in the American and International art scene, participating in fairs such as, most recently, Art Basel in 2024, the new Esther Art Fair in New York in May, Frieze Los Angeles, Art Basel Miami and Art Basel Paris (formerly Paris+ par Art Basel), among others. When we visited the gallery, it was presenting the first solo exhibition and mini-retrospective of Chinese Fiber artist Shi Hui, “White Meditation,” currently included also in the 60th Venice Biennale. The artist positioned herself as an essential proponent of the fiber arts movement in China early on, employing originally traditional techniques and materials, introducing a unique visual language to the fiber arts tradition that is distinctly Chinese but also her own.

HIVE Center for Contemporary Art

Exhibition view of Tan Yongqing. "The Lust of Gods", a recent exhibition at Hive Center for Contemporary Art in Shanghai, featuring dark paintings with mysterious totemic characters.
An exhibition view of Tan Yongqing’s “The Lust of Gods,” a recent exhibition at Hive Center for Contemporary Art in Shanghai. Hive Center for Contemporary Art

Hive Center for Contemporary Art | Shanghai
First Trust Co.Building, Beijing East Road No.270, 200000, Huangpu District, Shanghai, China

Hive Becoming | Shanghai
Beijing East Road No.211, 200000, Huangpu District, Shanghai, China

Originally founded in 2013 in Beijing by director Xia Jifeng, the gallery celebrated its tenth anniversary last year with two new spaces in Shanghai: Hive Shanghai and Hive Becoming. The name ‘Hive’ is a metaphor for the existence of human aggregation and a multiplicity of minds, corresponding to the current state of social structure and contemporary art.

The new main Shanghai space is in a former bank (the First Trust Co. Building), one of the few surviving century-old architectural landmarks in Shanghai’s historic Bund district. Originally built in 1924, the First Trust Co. Building was designed by then-renowned British firm Atkinson & Dallas Architects and Civil Engineers Ltd., combining neoclassical and modernist styles. Apart from the modifications necessary to accommodate contemporary art exhibitions, the building retains its original stylistic elements, with the Ionic and square columns and the exceptional stained-glass skylight of botanical motifs and geometric patterns. In this sophisticated and elegant space, Hive presents advanced art practices across mediums by artists from the region and its diaspora.

A hundred meters away, in another heritage structure at 211 Beijing East Road, there’s the permanent home of Hive Becoming. When we visited, the gallery was finalizing the installation of Wan Xiyan’s “Night After Night,” which opened on June 26 and runs through August 20. The American audience might already be familiar with the artist, who studied in Chicago and recently had a show with Nicodim Gallery in New York City.

Observer’s Guide to Shanghai’s Best Art Galleries and Art Spaces