News / Asia

    Graffiti Artists Paint Beijing

    Shannon Sant
    BEIJING — In China’s capital, graffiti art is gaining a following among young and fashionable Chinese. There is a small group of artists who use the city’s public spaces to express their feelings about their lives and rapidly changing country.
     
    Wang Mo is an artist who prefers to work on the surfaces he finds outdoors.  “If you paint on paper you have to paint within the boundaries of the paper," he explained. "But graffiti doesn’t obey that.  Graffiti means you can paint anywhere that you can see and touch. For young people graffiti is a limitless form of expression.”  
     
    Wang is one of a small gang of graffiti artists in Beijing.  At night they explore the city to drop what they call “graffiti bombs” using spray paint and a public space as a means of self-expression.  Wang says the subversive form of art is new for China.  
     
    “In China when you look for the word graffiti in the dictionary it is defined as ‘scribble.’  Graffiti is actually a form of art which came from America to Europe and then to China.  The government and police don’t understand it at all,” he stated. 
     
    Wang has been detained three times. After questioning him about the subject of his art the police have taken away his art supplies and let him go.  “They always want to know what you are painting first because they regard that as the most important issue.  If you were painting a cute cat they would let you go and ask you not to paint anymore.  But if your painting was anti-government they would think you are starting a political movement," he said. "In China the problem is not graffiti but what you are painting.”  
     
    Wang and his friends are now invited by fashion brands and galleries to take part in promotional events. Even the government has allotted some city walls as official public spaces for graffiti art.  But for Wang, these small liberties take away from the meaning of his work.  
     
    “This is not real graffiti!  Graffiti should mean that you can paint anywhere you want even if it is illegal.  We want more and more people, whether they are adults or children, to join us," he added. "We want them to go outside instead of painting on a canvas.  They should go out on the street and paint whatever they want.”  
     
    In a country that limits self-expression, these young Chinese are pushing boundaries with cans of paint.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Gift from: Shanghai
    July 28, 2012 9:14 AM
    Graffiti is a term used to encompass a form of artistic and emotional expression. Although the term brings to mind a particular image for each individual, I can clearly state that it in no way even touches the tip of the street art ice berg.

    Graffiti emerged in the US as a response to the corporate advertisements littered around cities. The argument goes, "if a company can buy space to dirty our surroundings with their messages, why cant we?" As a response to the privization of public space, Graffiti writers took to the streets and subways.

    In the millennial generation, Graffiti can represent degradation, danger, poverty, and rebellion, but it goes much further than this. Urban sectors are particularly affected by the presence of drug and violent gang graffiti. This form of Graffiti, which is often the name of a group, is meant for marking territory. In some cases, the writing on the walls can depict messages to opposing groups. This form is depicted as a socially unaccepted form of expression. Especially in its relation to the underworld.

    On the other hand, many Graffiti writers are looking for forms of artistic expression that allow them to share their creations with the public. Their belief is that, one should not need to have a gallery or have the money to rent a property to share their art with the public. These artists may take spaces that are blank, dead, or forgotten, and breath new life into them with their creations.

    The forms of graffiti range from all mediums and tool. In most cases, when stretching away from spray paint, this form of art is referred as street art.

    Street artists and graffiti artists are not always the same, but in both cases, they seek to bring new energy to a place otherwise lacking. The majority of experienced painters will partake in their form of "bombing" the streets, but another large portion will make efforts to keep the public sphere untouched. Out of respect.

    The graffiti and street art that I feel is most valued is that which is created to revitalize a community. A look into the graffiti of the favellas of Brazil, the collapsing suburbs of Detroit, the political symbols of division in old Berlin, and the gaza wall in Israel are all examples of value created through the expression of creativity.

    Even within the sub culture of graffiti and street artists, the views upon their forms of creation are many. It is not expected that one mindlessly accept all forms of graffiti as good or bad, but it is hoped that the perception of such art is seen with room for possibility.

    Can it be remembered the origins of graffiti? A form of art hoping to respond to the overwhelming presence of privatized space? The highest concentration of regualr graffiti are often in the exact communities that otherwise feel unable to freely express themselves. Be it for art, rebellion, curiosity, or value, this form of art has many shapes that can not otherwise be understood.

    http://www.cgraffiti.com

    by: Julius Zsako from: Denver
    July 27, 2012 10:07 PM
    Can graffiti be art? Isn't the difference between the two that graffiti is uninvited and unauthorized? Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, yet marking property without permission is the crime of graffiti vandalism. As stated in the book www.DefacingAmerica.com, if the famous Renaissance artist Michalangelo returned from the grave and painted a masterful work on your garage under the cover of darkness, it would be vandalism.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora