Walk a bit too briskly down Anfu Road and you might miss Square Gallery, one of Shanghai’s newest art spaces, and easily its least spacious. Tucked away inside a residential alleyway, it doesn’t advertise itself, even if its fresh coat of white paint makes it stand out amid the old bicycles and hanging laundry. It’s a small structure, the size of a cramped living room, that juts out from an 100-year-old apartment building—the sort of jerry-rigged addition you find throughout the city, probably built when some enterprising homeowner decided they wanted a bit more room. Now that room houses an impressive international collection of contemporary paintings and drawings. Some hang on the walls, while others are stacked two or three deep on the shelves. When you’ve got such a tiny space, you’ve got to be creative about how you use it.
倘若你快步走在安福路上，那你有可能就会没看见这家小小的 Square Gallery（广场画廊），它是上海最新的艺术空间之一，跻身在一条住宅里弄内，外观毫不张扬，但新涂的白色油漆外墙，还是让它在一堆旧自行车和晾出窗外的衣物中脱颖而出。这家画廊很小，仅如一个狭小的客厅，从一幢有一百年历史的公寓楼里突出来。像这样的 “建筑” 在上海随处可见，过去时候的房主如果想拓展更多空间，就会搭建这种简陋的小房间。
Square Gallery is the work of Shi Jianfang, an independent curator and artist who moved to Shanghai in 2018. He sits inside nearly every day from 11 to 10, welcoming the passersby who approach shyly, as though they’re not sure they’re even allowed down the private lane. “My space really is very small, and if several visitors arrive at the same time, some have to wait a bit outside. But for art, waiting builds anticipation,” he says. Those bold enough (or patient enough) to venture inside are rewarded with an expertly curated collection leaning heavily toward street art.
2018 年，艺术家兼独立策展人施谏昉搬到上海后，成立了 Square Gallery。每天早上 11 点到晚上 10 点，他都会呆在画廊里，欢迎到访的参观者。这些参观者有时会面露怯意，好像不确定能不能踏入这个住宅小巷。“实际上我的空间很小，如果碰到同时有几组客人来，他们也许需要在门口等待一会，但为了艺术，等待也许也会是种‘期待’吧。” 施谏昉说道。而那些勇于（或有足够耐心）走进画廊的人，将最终能一饱眼福，看到多为街头艺术作品的画作群展。
Shi grew up in Jiangsu Province and moved to Kiev for college and graduate school. When he returned to China with degrees in painting, he moved to Suzhou, where a local initiative offered artists free studio and living space in return for a few of their works. One year later he opened his first gallery there, Square Art Space—a precursor to Square Gallery—and eventually set up a sort of artist-in-residence program, inviting artists he’d met on his travels to stay and work in Suzhou for a month. “In Suzhou we set up a platform where international artists living in China or working here for a short time could interact and make art,” he explains. “Through exhibitions and other events, global artists share their creative experiences and their impressions of China with a Chinese public.”
施谏昉在浙江嘉兴长大，后来去了基辅修读大学和硕士学位。获得绘画学位后，他回到中国，搬到苏州生活，当地企业为艺术家提供了一种驻地政策，即以作品换取免费工作室和生活空间。一年后施谏昉开设了自己的第一家画廊 Square Art Space，即 Square Gallery 的前生，后来还创立了一个艺术家驻场项目，邀请他在旅行中遇到的艺术家在苏州生活和创作一个月。“我们在苏州建立一个在中国生活和来中国短期创作的国际艺术家创作交流的平台，通过展览、分享会等活动形式给中国观众带来一个多国家文化背景下艺术家的创作经验和在中国的体验。”
The artists he picks come from China, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and beyond. A trip to Barcelona let him acquire work by two well-known street artists, Konair and El Xupet Negre. “I wandered into a gallery in the Ciutat Vella and instantly fell in love with a piece by Konair. I decided to buy it, and just as I was leaving, Konair came in and the gallery owner introduced us,” he recalls. They hit it off over coffee, and six months later Shi invited him to attend Suzhou’s first graffiti art show. Konair suggested he also invite El Xupet Negre, whose iconic black pacifiers cover walls throughout Barcelona.
施谏昉邀请的艺术家来自中国、欧洲、非洲、拉丁美洲等地。一次去巴塞罗那的旅行更是让他收获了两位著名街头艺术家 Konair 和 El Xupet Negre 的作品。“我在巴塞罗那期间闲逛一家位于老城中心的画廊时，对 Konair 的其中一件作品 ‘一见钟情’ 后决定买下，正要离开时他来了，画廊主介绍他与我相识。” 他们一起去喝咖啡，交谈得很愉快。半年后，施谏昉邀请 Konair 作为艺术家身份来参加由他策划的在苏州的第一场涂鸦当代艺术展。 Konair 向他推荐了 El Xupet Negre，他所创作的黑色奶嘴涂鸦在巴塞罗那随处可见。
In 2018, Shi decided to move his project to Shanghai, drawn to the city’s unparalleled cultural scene. “Shanghai is a multicultural city where people from around the world are constantly moving to live and work,” he explains. “It’s a very cosmopolitan, inclusive place filled with possibilities of every kind. There’s no better place to exhibit works by outstanding international artists.”
2018 年，施谏昉决定将他的项目搬到上海，因为这座城市无与伦比的文化氛围深深地吸引了他。“上海是一个多元文化的城市，世界各地的人都来到上海工作生活。这是一个国际化的、包容的、充满各种可能性的地方，在这里展示来自全世界各地优秀艺术家的作品再合适不过。” 他解释道。
Shi welcomes visitors, and he enjoys the intimacy of the space, because it lets him talk with them face to face. “I like the people who visit to interact with me. All I ask is that they have an interest in art and treat each of the works with respect. What I don’t like is people who just breeze through and glance around.”
The space may be small, but Shi’s ambitions are big. He’s clear about what he aims to achieve: “To get more people to embrace, appreciate, and collect contemporary art. To get more outstanding artists from around the world to ‘dwell’ in Square Gallery, and to become a long-lasting, healthy, active, and creative collection gallery and exhibition space for contemporary artists from around the world.”
施谏昉的画廊空间虽然小，但他的野心却很大。他清楚自己的目标是什么：“让更多的人能够接受当代艺术、并且欣赏与收藏。让更多的来自世界各地的优秀艺术家作品‘入驻’到 Square Gallery，并成为一个长期的、健康的、充满创意和活力的国际当代艺术家作品集合画廊和展示平台。”
Anfu Road, Lane 229, No. 17
Xuhui District, Shanghai
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 10pm
Contributor: Allen Young