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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora