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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora