‘Shanghai Is an Adventurous Place’: Why Dealer Almine Rech Is Opening Her Fifth Gallery in the Chinese City Next Month

The French dealer is the latest in a growing list of Western galleries to open spaces in Shanghai.

The Amber Building in Shanghai. Courtesy of Almine Rech. Photo: Alessandro Wang.

With spaces in Paris, London, New York, and Brussels, French dealer Almine Rech has quietly reached mega-gallery status, and now she’s set to add yet another location to her list: Shanghai.

Rech says she has witnessed the Asian art market blossom over the last decade, so much so that it no longer made business sense to just participate in the fairs there. “The market has evolved a lot,” Rech tells artnet News. “Now, for instance, in the West Bund fair in Shanghai or Art Basel Hong Kong—which I’ve participated in for much longer as it’s an older fair—we sell mostly to Asians. In the past at those fairs we were selling much more to Europeans and Americans. We’re still fine doing that, of course, but we have a lot of demand from Asia.”

The clientele there is young and eager to build their collections, she says. Whereas in Europe and the US the collectors are “more established and their collections are already built,” Rech says, “in China, they are hungry. They haven’t had enough. And they want to know more.”

Rech is the latest in a steady line of Western dealers to set up shop in Shanghai, following in the footsteps of galleries like Perrotin and Lisson—both of which have opened spaces in the city in the last year. (Prior to that, Hauser & Wirth and Lévy Gorvy each opened offices in Shanghai.)

Almine Rech-Picasso. Courtesy of Almine Rech. Photo: Jouk Oosterhof.

Almine Rech-Picasso. Courtesy of Almine Rech. Photo: Jouk Oosterhof.

The move has been in the works for almost two years, Rech says. Candice Gu, one of two co-directors overseeing the new branch, joined the gallery more than a year ago and has since been working to secure the property. The other co-director, Damien Zhang, has been with the gallery for a number of years. Both have deep ties to the city—one of the reasons that the dealer chose Shanghai over another West Asian hub like Hong Kong or Beijing.

“For a long time I was hesitating,” Rech says. “But I found that Shanghai is a more adventurous place with fewer galleries. It’s very dynamic, it’s growing a lot. It was just more exciting to me.”

Almine Rech Shanghai will be housed on the second floor of the Amber Building, a former industrial space in Shanghai’s Bund district. With a number of other galleries in the building (including Lisson), the Rockbund Art Museum across the street, and a Christie’s branch down the road, the area has been dubbed “Museum Road.”

Rech will inaugurate the new space with a group show, set to open July 12, that brings together works by gallery artists such as Günther Förg, John M Armleder, Jean-Baptiste Bernadet, and Sylvie Fleury. The exhibition is a sort of sister affair to “Abstraction(s),” another group show of Rech’s artists curated by Nicolas Trembley that opens July 20 at the Song Art Museum in Beijing.

An exhibition of new works by Irish painter Genieve Figgis, who has shown with the gallery since 2015, is set to open September 20, followed by a new presentation of James Turrell light works in November.

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