Wallace Chan in Shanghai

Metamorphosis brooch © Wallace Chan

From 3rd July to 7th October, Shanghai Museum’s “Drawing Inspiration from the Past: Masters of Modern and Contemporary Art” Exhibition Series’ inaugural exhibition – Wallace Chan: Half a Century, will be on view at the Bright Dairy & Food Exhibition Gallery 1 of Shanghai Museum East.

The inaugural exhibition of the series immerses us in the world of Wallace Chan, a prominent jewellery artist of the 21st century. This exhibition is also the artist’s largest exhibition in the world to date.

Chinese artist and innovator Wallace Chan is the first living contemporary artist to exhibit at Shanghai Museum East. Renowned as the “formidable Chinese” among European jewellers, he has utilised various gemstones and metals in his artistic practice for five decades, guided by a profound appreciation for nature. Drawing poetic inspiration from chan (“cicadas”) and incorporating chan (“Zen Buddhism”) into his poetic creations, Chan transcends the boundaries of craftsmanship and contemplation.

Wallace Chan
Wallace Chan

Wallace Chan: Half a Century is co-curated by Shanghai Museum and Danish Royal Jewellery Curator Nina Hald. Over 200 pieces of the artist’s masterpieces will be on view at Shanghai Museum East. It is an unprecedented review of Chan’s oeuvre as an artist and innovator over five decades of dedicated work, juxtaposed with prestigious loans from the collections of the Shanghai Museum, the Palace Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim and the Victoria and Albert Museum.


The exhibition presents three themes: Engraving & Embodying, Entangling & Enchanting, and Enlightening & Empowering. Each theme is an entrance to higher levels of craftsmanship, creativity and consciousness.

Engraving & Embodying, the first theme, traces Chan’s humble beginnings: how he began his life with sensory perceptions and an apprenticeship as a gemstone carver in 1973.

wallace chan
The Beauty of Greatness brooch © Wallace Chan

In Entangling & Enchanting, having mastered carving, Chan’s creativity began to unfold. In his 30s, he began adapting techniques, tools, and knowledge from many fields to come up with solutions to challenges facing him in the process of realising his creations. Time spent experimenting with gemstone carving, the colouring, carving and sculpting of titanium, as well as the engineering of jewellery structures and parts has added depth to Chan’s works, which also involve traditional techniques and goldsmithing materials used in original, contemporary ways.


In Enlightening & Empowering, motifs such as the dragon, phoenix, horse, and tiger reveal how Chan embraces and innovates the spirit of Chinese culture and people. As interpreted by Chan in his symbolic creations, they echo his spirituality and meditation, thus transcending the boundary between jewellery and art. ‘Hera’ is a peacock adorned with resplendent and magnificent feathers – a motif beloved by people around the world throughout history.

wallace chan
Butterfly Nebula pair of brooches © Wallace Chan

Wallace Chan says: “My heartfelt thanks go to the Shanghai Museum for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. At the age of 70, I am humbled and honoured by this 100-day exhibition in my beloved motherland.”

Find out more here.

See also: Chris Foss: A Sci-Fi Journey in Guernsey

Unique in its broad international coverage of both arts and cultural events, Arts & Collections covers fine art from antiquity to modern times, auction records, a special sale preview by Sotheby’s, as well as market trends that inform collectors of the world’s finest items.

© 2024 Arts & Collections - All Rights Reserved