StageBack art space


I wandered up the candlelit concrete stairs of the once opium den of the 696 Weihai Lu artists studio complex to the StageBack gallery. On entering the space I was relieved to discover no paintings overly tastefully framed on the walls, no flowers arranged in a vase, no guilt, or glitter. Thomas Palme Madness, Booze and Social Phobia is what art exhibitions are supposed to be – energetic and stimulating, and NOT about the transaction of goods.

The white walled gallery space is strewn with drawings pinned to the wall, or pegged to string criss-crossing the space. The packing materials that the artist, Thomas Palme, had used to transport his drawings to Shanghai in are also used in the installation. All the works are on white paper, done with pencil, hard black lines – none of this soft delicate pussing around drawing stuff, hard in your face ‘this is what I’m about and deal with it’ kind of stuff.

Apparently he draws with both hands though I doubt he limits himself to using just hands to draw with. His work is body but a body drowned in history. I spotted Van Gogh with a female nude body. Animal bones, animal heads, and Christian crucifixes a primordial art man alone in the Bavarian mountains draws out his cultural history.

When I spoke to the artist, Thomas Palme, we discussed the privacy needed for drawing, something that isn’t needed for painting. Internal secrecy that is spewed out onto the page, then in the case of this exhibition the drawings in the travel tube were exploded around the gallery by the artist, the resultant curation being the trace of a performance. The artist also makes books (books this soon to be redundant object) to share his work with others.

Palme shows one of his videos too. It is a TV screen attached to the fence that is on the Stage Back Shanghai terrace that is at the back of the space. I watched the video of Palme doing odd things in the snow clad Bavarian woods with bone like penis coverings (and a BMWs having an appearance too) with the fast paced Shanghai skyline in the background. A personally moving conjunction the bright fast paced densely populated Shanghai with the snowy solitary wooded mountain in Bavaria. Where would I rather be?

Exhibition kindly supported by the Goethe Institute

Exhibition on until 21st November 2009

StageBack art space

310, 3rd floor, 696 Weihai Lu, Shanghai, China