Born in 1952 in Shanghai, Shen Fan graduated from the Fine Arts Department of the Shanghai Light Industry Institute. A leading Chinese artist whose career spans nearly 40 years, Shen defies being categorized into a certain style or school. Contemporary art in China was mostly dominated by Social Realism until it experienced a profound shift in 1978 with Deng Xiaoping’s establishment of a new Open Door policy for the country. With the sudden availability of Western art publications, many artists began to adopt the Western style as a new mode of creating art, yet Shen rooted his work in Eastern philosophy in his pursuit of modernity. While Western Abstract Expressionism is often associated with action painting and direct, energetic brushstrokes, Shen employs ßunique applications of eastern methods such as rubbing. He represents the rich tradition of abstraction in Shanghai as one of its most important and pioneering figures.
Shen Fan’s work has been exhibited at institutions in China including Psychedelic, Urban Landscape and Abstraction II, Mingyuan Art Center, Shanghai (2021); Shen Fan, Powerlong Museum, Shanghai (2020); Shanghai Waves - Historical Archives and Works of Shanghai Biennale, Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2021); Audit - Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Powerlong Art Center, Hangzhou (2018); "The Stars" Art Education Achievement Exhibition, Jingan Culture Centre (2018); Avant-Garde Shanghai: 30 Year Literature Exhibition of Shanghai Contemporary Art (1979-2010), Mingyuan Art Museum, Shanghai (2018); Abstract Plus, Essence Contemporary Art Museum, Chongqing (2018); Origin, Huashan Art Museum, Shanghai (2018); The Reason Why Classic Is, Artron Art Center, Shenzhen (2017); Shen Fan: Punctuation - The Second Time, The Barn Contemporary Art Space, Shenzhen (2017); Objects and Intuition, A Way of Seeing, Boxes Art Space of OCT Harbour, Shenzhen (2016); Wu Speech - Artists Living in Shanghai, China Art Museum, Shanghai (2016); An Art Banquet, Shanghai Contemporary Artists' Painting and Sculpture Exhibition, Chun Art Museum, Shanghai (2016); Myth/History II: Shanghai Galaxy, Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2015); Shanghai Flowers, 30 years of Shanghai Contemporary Art, Songjiang Contemporary Art Center, Shanghai (2015); City Vision, 2015 Shanghai Artists' Works Exhibition, Cloud Art Center, Shanghai (2015); Xu Bo Zhi Jing, Dialogue: Shan Shui, Shanghai Mingyuan Art Museum (2015); Trace – 2014 Xin Tian Di Contemporary Public Art Exhibition, Shanghai (2014); A Fragment in the Course of Time, Landscape of Chinese Ink Art in 1980s, Himalayas Art Museum, Shanghai (2014); Another Utopia, Shanghai Abstract Art Exhibition, Mingyuan Art Center, Shanghai (2013); Insightful Charisma, Inaugural Exhibition of Shanghai Himalayas Museum, Himalayas Art Museum, Shanghai (2013); Images and Words: Since Magritte Era, The National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2012); In Time - 2012 Chinese Oil Painting Biennale, National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2012); A New Way to Play with Ink - Contemporary Chinese Ink Art in Three-Dimensional Context, Zendai Contemporary Art Space, Shanghai (2012); Huashan Art Vocational School Alumni Artworks Collection, Xuhui Art Museum, Shanghai (2012); The End of the Brush and Ink Era: Chinese Landscape, True Color Museum, Suzhou (2011); The 1st International NanoArt Exhibition, Science and Culture Arts Center, Suzhou (2010); Five Years of Duolun, Chinese Contemporary Art Retrospective Exhibition, Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai (2008); Heading with Times Group Exhibition of Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of Reforming and Opening up Policy in the Yangtze River Delta Area, 1978-2008, Shanghai Exhibition Center, Shanghai (2008); Rejected Collection, More the 40 Chinese Artists / Over 60 Rejected Proposals, Ke Center for Contemporary Arts, Shanghai (2007); The Nobleness Found on Paper, Museum of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art, Guangzhou (2007); 6th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China (2006); Tiny. Excellent, Xuhui Art Museum, Shanghai (2006); 2006 Shanghai Abstract Art Exhibition, Mingyuan Art Center, Shanghai (2006); Alien Illusion, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai (2005); Unapproachable, The Bridge 8', Shanghai (2005); Shanghai Abstract Art, Mingyuan Art Center, Shanghai (2004); Beyond Dimensional Space, Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai (2004); It is I, Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao, Shanxi (2003); 2002 Shanghai Abstract Art Group Show, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai (2002); Metaphysics 2002, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai (2002); Metaphysics 2001, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai (2001); 2000 China-Korea-Japan Contemporary Art Exhibition, Changning Culture and Art Centre, Shanghai (2000); Shanghai Art Museum Collection Exhibition, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai (2000); Difference Apperceive, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai (1999); The City Abstract, The College of Fine Art of Shanghai University, Shanghai (1999); 99' Ceramic Arts Millennium-End Invitational Exhibition, Central Institute of Arts and Crafts, Beijing (1999); Shen Fan - Liu Guang Yun Art Exhibition, The Academy of Shanghai University, Shanghai (1999); New Voices: Contemporary Art Dialogue Among Taipei, Hong Kong and Shanghai, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai; Hong Kong Art Center, Hong Kong; National Taiwan Art Education Institute, Taipei (1998); The China Contemporary Oil Painting Exhibition, Changning Cultural Center, Shanghai (1998); Un/Limited Space, #1 Shen Fan, Consulate General of Germany, Shanghai (1997); Shen Fan, Consulate General of France, Shanghai (1997); The Contemporary Oil Painting of China, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai (1997); 1997: Hong Kong China, Liu Haisu Museum, Shanghai (1997); Outburst, The College of Fine Art of Shanghai University, Shanghai (1997); Shanghai Fax: Let's Talk about Money, International Fax Art Exhibition, Shanghai Huashan Professional School of Art Gallery, Shanghai (1996); Shen Fan and Qiu Jie, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai (1992); Shen Fan's Works on Paper, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai (1988); and "M," Performance & Conceptual Art Exhibition, Hongkou District Cultural Centre, Shanghai (1986).
Shen Fan's work has been exhibited at institutions outside of China including China 8, Contemporary Art from China at Rhine and Ruhr, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany (2015); Shanghai, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, USA (2010); Out of Shanghai, Museum Gegenstandsfreier Kunst, Otterndorf, Germany (2009); Shanghai Kaleidoscope, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada (2008); I have Been Here, Usher Gallery, The Collection of Lincoln, Lincoln, U.K. (2008); The Collection, Shen Fan Solo show, The Collection Studio, Lincoln, U.K. (2008); Shen Fan, Ravenscourt Galleries, Moscow, Russia (2008); Color Your Life Art Exhibition, The Tolman Collection, Tokyo, Japan (2006); Chinese Maximalism, Millennium Art Museum, Beijing; University at Buffalo Art Galleries and Museum Studies, State University of New York at Buffalo, U.S.A. (2003); Ost + West-China Contemporary Art Exhibition, Kuenstlerhaus, Vienna, Austria (2002); BM99, Bienal da Maya, Maya Art Center, Portugal (1999); Shen Fan, 14-1 Gallery, Stuttgart, Germany (1998); Ceramics Work of Shen Fan, European Ceramics Workcenter, S'-Hentogenbosch, The Netherlands (1998); Jiangnan, Modern and Contemporary Art form South of the Yangzi River, Grunt Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (1998); Four Artists from Shanghai, The Center of World Trade, Bremen, Germany (1997); Quotation Marks, Chinese Contemporary Paintings, National Art Museum, Singapore (1997); China! Touring Exhibition of Modern Art, Artist's House, Vienna, Austria; Charlottenburg Exhibition Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark; Zacheta Modern Art Mudrum, Warsaw, Poland (1997); Direct d`Art, Salon International D' ART Contemporain, Palais der Expositions, Nice, France (1996); China! Touring Exhibition, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (1996); Shanghai Fax Art Exhibition, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (1995), and Shen Fan, Max Planck Institute, Tubingen, Germany (1988).
Shen Fan’s works have been collected by major museums in China including: Huashan Art Museum; The National Art Museum of China; Shanghai Art Museum; M+ Museum; Mingyuan Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. Shen Fan currently lives and works in Shanghai, China.