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Chinese 3D Street Artist Qi Xinghua Brings Concrete to Life : “A City Needs Its Tattoos”

Chinese 3D artist Qi Xinghua (齐兴华) uses his skills to turn bleak walls in Chinese cities into stunning works of art – he brings concrete to life. But his street art often does not last, as Qi faces different forces that work against him and his work. On social media platform Weibo, Qi’s fans can admire his art online, even if it has already disappeared from the streets.

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Chinese 3D artist Qi Xinghua (齐兴华) uses his skills to turn bleak walls in Chinese cities into stunning works of art – he brings concrete to life. But his street art often does not last, as Qi faces different forces that work against him and his work. On social media platform Weibo, Qi’s fans can admire his art online, even if it has already disappeared from the streets.

“The crocodile is gone again,” – Chinese artist Qi Xinghua posted on his Weibo account on August 25. Earlier this summer, he had transformed the dilapidated part of a Beijing brick wall into a cheeky crocodile, writing: “Beijing has a well-known red brick wall that’s broken. It looks like a scar. I used the nighttime to make it more beautiful. I hope to show that what’s broken can also be interesting. A city needs its tattoos.” But now, the crocodile is gone – the painting’s layer smashed into pieces.

crocodile

On Sina Weibo, painter Qi Xinghua (@齐兴华) describes himself as “China’s first 3D artist” (“中国首位3D画艺术家”). The artist was born in Heilongjiang in 1982. He was inspired by western 3D sidewalk chalk artists, and soon developed an interest to do the same. He enrolled in the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and started focusing on multi-dimensional art in 2002.

 

“Nature confronts me with a difficult problem, and I offer her a humorous solution”.”

 

Since he fully dedicated himself to his 3D art work in 2010, Qi has become a much-praised artist and a four-time Guinness World record holder for making the world’s largest 3D paintings. He is renowned for his incredible designs that can be mind-blowing, often leaving people wondering what is real and what is fantasy.

It is especially because of his record-winning work ‘The Lion’s Gate Gorge’ (狮门峡谷) that Qi received much media attention, with the 3D effect being so strong that some people who stood on the painting even became dizzy.

According to Qi, he uses a technique called ‘reverse version’ or ‘inverse-perspective’. As he told China.org: “From our normal vision, nearby objects are big and far away ones are small. I use the opposite method to make far away objects big and close objects small. In this way, a two-dimensional painting turns three-dimensional.”

Picture1 The Lion’s Gate Gorge (狮门峡谷) by Qi Xinghua; the world’s largest 3D (anamorphic) painting on display  in Guangzhou.

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waterfall‘The Waterfall’ by Qi Xinghua is a depiction of a waterfall in a busy street, that seems to be protruding from the center.

Apart from working on his grand 3D projects, Qi also works on his street art with which he creatively turns bleak walls in the urban scenery into pieces of art, bringing messages of happiness, humour, and love of life.

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For example, Qi has turned the holes in the wall of a deserted basement into Baymax from Disney’s Big Zero.
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Or he placed two pandas on two sides of a dilapidated brick wall.
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Sometimes Qi gives his work original names, such as the project (image below) that is titled “Sharp Items will Hurt Grandpa’s Hand (尖锐物品会划伤爷爷的手)”.

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Throughout the years, Qi Xinghuai has attracted many fans with his wall paintings. Apart from the 172,000+ followers he has on his Weibo account, many admirers also go around the city to seek for his work. Qi receives many invitations to decorate walls in different places. “I like this recreation of old walls”, Qi says on Weibo: “It is like a cooperation with nature. Nature confronts me with a difficult problem, and I offer her a humorous solution”.

 

“Seize the moment and pose with my work before it’s gone.”

 

On Weibo, Qi shares his working process with his followers. Either with paint or chalk, Qi adjusts his work to the place it is located. “I found this wall today,” he recently wrote on his account: “And I got excited. I used the shape of the wall’s broken parts to paint a face.” He then shared the results with his fans.

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Qi says he wants to “beautify the scars of the city” by focusing on broken walls and dilapidated parts of different cities within China.

“Seize the moment and pose with my work before it’s gone,” Qi tells his social media followers, who also send in their own pictures with Qi’s different pieces, from Beijing to Nanjing and elsewhere.

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Despite his popularity, however, the humor and beauty of Qi’s wall paintings usually do not last long, as Qi faces forces from within local communities and governments that work against his work and destroy it.

 

“It’s not the seed that’s lacking, it’s the soil.”

 

“I have been reported again,” Qi writes. Besides the recent removal of Qi’s crocodile, many other works have also been removed. The pandas, for example, have been “redecorated” with local advertisements. Another work titled “Sweetie, your bite is hurting daddy” (“宝贝,你咬疼爸爸了”), which depicts a baby lion biting the back of a father lion (Father and Son Lion), has been covered with paint and graffiti.

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Besides people covering his work with their own advertisements or graffiti, Qi also faces the opposition of local land owners or city regulators. While finishing the crocodile, Qi posted on Weibo one picture of a police car and another one of himself running away from his work. Although he did not mention how and why the crocodile was destroyed, a picture of him sitting among the smashes of the painting suggests that it has been removed with force.

Qi

“Why am I reported? Nobody cares about people posting advertisements on walls, nobody fixes the walls that are broken. It grieves me. Tell me what city would like it, and I will come and paint,” Qi wrote on July 22. Faced with setbacks of him being reported and his paintings being removed, Qi recently also wrote that “perhaps it is not the seed that is lacking, but the soil”.

It might need more time before a relatively new phenomenon like street art will be accepted and accommodated by Chinese municipalities and citizens alike. In Shanghai and Shenzhen, efforts to regulate street performers were only introduced as recent as 2014. As for 3D and graffiti artists, their legitimate existence still relies on consensus between the artist, their local municipality and the residents, as there are currently no clear regulations. As The Diplomat wrote in 2015, China strictly controls graffiti that signals political dissent, but sometimes promotes graffiti that beautifies the city. But in the present situation, Qi’s work will keep on facing an uncertain future.

On Weibo, many netizens are hopeful about the future of street art. “It takes time to obtain rich soil,” one netizen writes: “It might be slow, but it will come.”

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In the meantime, Qi Xinghuai refuses to give up his street art activities. After the disappearance of his Father and Son Lion work, Qi wrote on Weibo: “I want to revive them, let them appear on the street again, with undestroyable spirit.”

-By Diandian Guo and Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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China Arts & Entertainment

“Not Just a Style, But a Mission” – China’s Online Hanfu Movement

What started with a 2003 internet sensation grew into a massive movement – Hanfu is booming on Weibo and beyond.

Things That Talk

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It’s been nearly two decades since the Chinese traditional clothing trend named Hanfu 汉服 first became noticeable as a popular social phenomenon in mainland China. Throughout the years, Hanfu has gone from a fashion style to a full-fledged movement that is flourishing on Chinese social media. Koen van der Lijn reports.

 
When objects meet social media, two websites meet as well. This is a collaboration between What’s on Weibo and Things That Talk (follow on Insta @thingsthattalk).
 

This last Christmas, Hanfu was once again a trending topic on Weibo. Enthusiasts of the traditional Chinese clothing trend posed online in their Christmas inspired Chinese clothing.

It was yet another development in the Hanfu Movement, which has been a hot topic with hundreds of hashtags and thousands of pictures, videos, and stories on Weibo, with the official Weibo Hanfu @微博汉服 account boasting a whopping 1.8 million followers and a Weibo ‘supertopic’ on Hanfu being joined by nearly half a million fans.

“You can also wear Hanfu during Christmas,” post and images by @弥秋君 on Weibo.

One example of the manifold of Hanfu content on Weibo is a video recently posted by Chinese actress Xu Jiao (徐娇). In the short video, which is an advertisement by the e-commerce platform RED (小红书), the actress wears Hanfu in various settings while talking about the meaning behind the fashion. Xu Jiao, being 23 years of age, is part of Generation Z (mid-1990s – early 2010s), who are adept users of social media and make up the mass of Hanfu enthusiasts.

Screenshot of video posted by Xu Jiao 徐娇

Though Hanfu enthusiasts seldomly go out on the streets whilst wearing the clothing style,1 Hanfu sales have been increasing a lot over the past few years.2 Possibly linked to the popularity of Chinese costume dramas, many Chinese youth have started to wear Hanfu in the past two decades. However, it is not just a form of cosplay or a new clothing style. As Xu Jiao says herself in the video: “It’s not just a style, it’s a mission.”

 

Background of the Hanfu Movement


 

It was November 2003 when Wang Letian walked the streets of Zhengzhou in Hanfu. News of his action rapidly spread over the internet through websites such as hanminzu.net.3

Besides online discussions, an article was also written about Wang Letian’s bold move in the Singaporean newspaper Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报, helping spread word about the young man’s actions. This moment was seen as the start of the Hanfu Movement.

Wang Letian in the Lianhe Zaobao of November 29, 2003.

Now, roughly twenty years later, the wearing of Hanfu has developed into a true movement, with many young Chinese participating in the wearing of the traditional Chinese dress. Especially on college campuses, the trend is very much alive.

In its most basic idea, the Hanfu Movement can be described as a social movement that supports the wearing of Han Chinese ethnic clothing. The emphasis on the Han ethnicity is of importance here. Han Chinese make up the vast majority of the population in China, accounting for more than 90% of China’s total population. However, aspects famous outside China for being typically Chinese, such as the queue, are actually of Manchu origin.

The Manchus are an ethnic group from Northeastern China, showing cultural similarities to the Mongols, who ruled China’s last dynasty, the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). Their clothing style has influenced foreign perceptions of China, due to the fact that the Manchus were the ruling class in the last Chinese imperial dynasty.

Image via https://shop60421556.taobao.com/.

Hence the emphasis on the Han ethnicity. Central to the Hanfu Movement is the idea that ethnic Han clothing, as worn during Han Chinese ruled dynasties, such as the Han dynasty (202BC-220AD), the Tang dynasty (618-907), and the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), has much value in its own and should be worn and appreciated by contemporary Han Chinese, just as the ethnic clothing of China’s minorities is appreciated in contemporary China.4

 

The Mission


 

On 4 December 2020, blogger Mi Qiujun posted a video with the hashtag #How to make the world understand Hanfu?#, (#如何让世界了解汉服#), gaining many likes and comments. Showing clips of herself wearing Hanfu in Egypt, the United States, France, and Japan, she tells how she became determined to make people around the globe understand China’s traditional culture after her clothing being wrongly identified as a Japanese kimono at her first stop in Nepal.

Mi Qiujun discusses an important aspect of the Hanfu movement. Hanfu enthusiasts feel that their ethnic clothing is not understood well enough by others, and showing the rest of the world their clothing is a true mission.

Hanfu enthusiasts have found themselves in online quarrellings about what can be defined as Hanfu, and what cannot be defined as Hanfu. It is worth noting that some scholars have disputed the existence of a uniform Hanfu throughout Chinese history.5 Instead, Hanfu is seen to have been popularised by students through the internet, without strong knowledge of Han Chinese clothing traditions.6 This makes it difficult to assess what does and what does not count as Hanfu.

Online quarrelings have therefore become part of the Hanfu Movement. In November 2020, for instance, Chinese netizens found themselves in an online discussion with their Korean neighbours. That month, Chinese actor Xu Kai (许凯) posted a photo of himself in traditional costume from the set of the Chinese drama titled Royal Feast (尚食), which is set in the Ming Dynasty.

A controversial selfie.

After South Korean web users pointed out that the traditional costume worn by Xu resembled Korean traditional clothing named Hanbok, the drama’s producer Yu Zheng (于正) posted a response on social media in which he firmly stated that this clothing was not Hanbok but Hanfu, adding that Korea was a vassal state of China at the time and that only “uncivilized people” would call it ‘Hanbok.’

 

A Nationalist Movement?


 

These kinds of discussions also show another side of the Hanfu Movement. For some Hanfu enthusiasts, Hanfu is more than a mission to let others understand Han ethnic culture; instead, it is a way to construct a purified Han Chinese identity, free from foreign influence.7

Girl dressed in Hanfu while visiting the Forbidden City. Photo by Manya Koetse.

This foreign influence is often linked back to the Manchus once again. ‘Uncivilised practices’ in contemporary Chinese society are attributed to the Manchus. This rhetoric reinforces the belief of Han supremacy, which has existed long before the invention of the internet, where the ‘civilized’ Han Chinese believe themselves to be superior to the ‘uncivilized’ barbarians, such as the Manchus.

This rise in Han Chinese nationalism started in the past few decades.8 The Hanfu Movement thus has followers who are a part of this new turn, where Han Chinese want to restore the glory of their past and turn away from Western and Manchu influences.9

These hardcore Han nationalists are but a small part of the movement. The Hanfu Movement encompasses a large and diverse group of people, who all share a certain belief that Hanfu should gain more appreciation in China and abroad. These are, for instance, some of the comments under Xu Jiao’s video:

– “(…) Xu Jiao speaks for Hanfu!!” (@怪物与约翰)

– “Do not be afraid to doubt, never forget the original intention, Hanfu is a style, it’s a mission, it’s culture, and it’s an attitude.” (@打翻废纸篓)

– “I am so thankful we have you! I really like your work and your attitude towards Hanfu!” (@小瓦肯Shail)

What connects most Hanfu enthusiasts then? Hanfu enthusiasts take pride in wearing Hanfu, and they wear Hanfu simply because they like wearing it. Moreover, they believe it to be important to make others, both in and outside China, gain a deeper understanding of Han Chinese ethnic culture. Hanfu is more than a fad. It is a subculture, it is a style, and for Xu Jiao and many others, it is their mission.

 
By Koen van der Lijn

Koen van der Lijn (China Studies, BA) is a ResMa student Asian Studies at Leiden University focused on Chinese history and its international relations. He is a student ambassador at Things That Talk.

This story was made in collaboration with ThingsThatTalk.net – exploring humanities through the life of objects. Things That Talk is an educational digital project where staff and students produce narratives and metadata about objects in Leiden collections and beyond. A story focused on the background of the Hanfu Movement and objects associated with this movement has previously been published on Things that Talk, go check it out!
 

Notes (other sources hyperlinked within the article)

1 Buckley, Chris, and Katrina Northrop. 2018. “A Retro Fashion Statement in 1,000-Year-Old Gowns, With Nationalist Fringe.” New York Times, Nov 22 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/22/world/asia/china-hanfu-gowns-clothing.html [Jan 16 2021].
2 Zhou Xing 周兴. 2020. “Report: Hanfu turnover on Taobao platform exceeded 2 billion yuan in 2019 [报告:2019年淘宝平台上汉服成交金额突破20亿元].” Dianshangbao, August 2 2020 https://www.dsb.cn/124836.html [Jan 16 2021].
3 Cui Chentao 崔晨涛. 2016. “Han Costume Movement and National Culture Rejuvenation [汉服运动“与民族文化复兴的诉求].” Journal of Yunyang Teachers College 36(5): 19-24.
4 Cui Chentao 崔晨涛. 2016. “Han Costume Movement and National Culture Rejuvenation [汉服运动“与民族文化复兴的诉求].” Journal of Yunyang Teachers College 36(5): 19-24.
5 Carrico, Kevin. 2017. The Great Han: Race, Nationalism, and Tradition in China Today. Oakland, California: University of California Press.
6 Zhang Xian 张跣. 2009. “‘Hanfu Movement’: Ethnic Nationalism in the Internet Age [“汉服运动”:互联网时代的种族性民族主义].” Journal of China Youth University for Political Sciences (4): 65-71.
7 Carrico, Kevin. 2017. “Imaginary Communities: Fantasy and Failure in Nationalist Identification,” in The Great Han: Race, Nationalism, and Tradition in China Today, chapter 1. Oakland, California: University of California Press.
8 Dikötter, Frank. 2001. “Nationalist Myth-making: The Construction of the Chinese Race.” Human Rights in China, 27 April https://www.hrichina.org/en/content/4573 [16 Jan 2021].
9 Carrico, Kevin. 2017. “Imaginary Communities: Fantasy and Failure in Nationalist Identification,” in The Great Han: Race, Nationalism, and Tradition in China Today, chapter 1. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Featured image: Photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash

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China Celebs

Angelababy, Huang Xiaoming, Li Fei’er: Love Triangle Rumors From Decade Ago Revisited

Weibo explodes after Angelababy addresses rumors that have been going on for over ten years.

Manya Koetse

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On Wednesday afternoon, Beijing time, Weibo exploded when Chinese celebrity couple Huang Xiaoming and Angelababy addressed some strong rumors about the start of their relationship.

Their posts resulted in various hashtags and search terms going viral, including the phrases “When Angelababy Met Huang Xiaoming, He Said He Was Single” and “Angelababy Was Not My Mistress.” At least three out of today’s top trending Weibo topics are related to Angelababy and Huang Xiaoming.

Angelababy (nickname for Yang Ying 杨颖) is practically a household name in China. The famous actress and model married actor Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明) in 2015, and ever since, their marriage and relationship status is a popular gossip topic on social media. The two have a son together.

With Angelababy having over 100 million fans on her Weibo page (@angelababy) and Huang Xiaoming having over 61 million followers on his (@黄晓明), the two are practically Weibo’s most followed couple. Their $31 million wedding is probably the most-discussed Chinese weddings of the past decade.

Chinese actress Li Fei’er (李菲儿) previously dated Huang Xiaoming after working with him in the 2008 television series Royal Tramp (鹿鼎记). The two are said to have started a relationship in 2007, and to have broken up in 2010 – the same year when Huang got together with Angelababy. The ending of the relationship with Li and the start of the new love affair with Angelababy has been a source of gossip for over a decade.

In a 2011 interview with a Hong Kong magazine, Li had hinted that Angelababy was previously ‘the other woman’ during her relationship with Huang.

The rumors surrounding that alleged love triangle between Angelababy, Li, and Huang reached a new peak this week when Huang Xiaoming and Li Fei’er shared a stage on the super popular reality series Sisters Who Make Waves 2, which features 30 female celebrities over the age of 30. Huang hosts the show.

Apparently, Angelababy felt that the waves of rumors became too strong for her not to speak out. In the late afternoon of January 6, she posted a Weibo post in which she stated that Huang Xiaoming told her he was single when they first met. When Li made ‘groundless’ comments about Angelababy in a magazine interview, she asked Huang about it, and “he told me they had broken up.”

“A decade has passed by. Today, I’ve chosen to stand up for myself and to explain the entire thing clearly. I don’t want to take the blame anymore,” Angelababy writes.

She also added that she felt this is “a matter between Mister Huang and Li Fei’er,” suggesting that Huang is the person who needs to clarify the matter to the public.

Angelababy’s post was followed up by a post by Huang just an hour later, in which he stated the success of the Sister Who Make Waves tv show lies in the values it conveys to respect women, suggesting that the recent flood of rumors is harmful to the show’s central theme, the women participating in it, as well as to his own family.

He further clarifies that Angelababy “was not a mistress,” refuting ongoing rumors about the start of their relationship.

The huge attention for this matter seemed to temporarily put a strain on Weibo’s servers, with the site momentarily showing a notification that its servers were too busy. In 2017, Weibo servers could no longer handle the peak in traffic after Chinese singer ad actor Lu Han announced his new relationship.

Weibo servers were busy after Angelababy posted about the decade-old ‘love triangle’ rumors.

For now, the statements by Angelababy and Huang have only brought about more speculation. The fact that Angelababy refers to her husband as “Mr. Huang” in her post intensifies ongoing rumors that Huang and Angelababy might already be separated.

Meanwhile, Li Fei’er, who has over 11 million followers on her Weibo page (@李菲儿love) has not posted anything about the recent developments. In her last post on January 1st, she wished her followers a happy new year.

By Wednesday night, Beijing time, Angelababy’s post had received over 1,3 million likes and 100,000 comments; Huang’s post got over 850,000 likes, already making this celebrity news one of the most talked-about topics this week.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions from Miranda Barnes

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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