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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

Chinese Movie “Sister” Stirs Discussions on Traditional Family Values in China

The movie ‘Sister’ has sparked online discussions on whether or not personal values should be prioritized over traditional family values.

Manya Koetse

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Mainlaind Chinese drama My Sister (我的姐姐, also known as ‘Sister‘) was just released in theatres and is sparking online discussions on family relations and the role of women in China.

After the hit movie Hi, Mom (你好,李焕英) received praise earlier this year for focusing on the role of mothers within Chinese families, this film zooms in on the role of older sisters.

My Sister, directed by Yin Ruoxin (殷若昕), revolves around the story of An Ran, an 18-year-old daughter who is unexpectedly facing the major responsibility for her 6-year-old brother after the tragic loss of their parents. While trying to find her own path in life, she suddenly has to step into the role of caregiver for her younger sibling. But does she want to take on this role?

Actress Zhang Zifeng (张子枫) is playing the main lead in this movie, which touches upon the issue of dealing with traditional family values and personal dreams and ambitions. Sister reveals the difficulties women face within the traditional Chinese-style family structure and the sacrifices they make for their parents, their children, siblings, and their husbands; and how the roles and tasks that are expected of them also clash with their own ideas about happiness and fulfillment.

For An Ran, the relationship with her little brother is troublesome. As a young girl, she had to pretend to be disabled in order to allow her parents to have a second child, preferably a son (under the One Child Policy, families with children with disabilities were allowed to have more children). Now, as a young adult, she once again has to sacrifice her own individual freedom in order to let her brother thrive.

The renowned Chinese sociologist Li Yinhe (李银河) dedicated a lengthy post to the movie on her Weibo account, where she called the film “fascinating” and “thought-provoking.”

Li suggests that multiple social issues play a role in this film. First, there is the conflict between individual-oriented values and traditional family-oriented ethics. While traditional Chinese ideas about family require An Ran to put her brother first and move personal self-fulfillment to the backseat, An Ran is a young woman who grew up in a rapidly modernizing China where women are more empowered and independent. Why should she sacrifice her personal education and career in order to devote herself to raising her brother?

Another social topic that plays a major role in this film is the deep-seated cultural preference for sons over daughters. An Ran literally had to make herself weaker in order for her brother to be brought into this world – and in doing so limiting the possibilities for her future career, – with these patriarchal practices prioritizing the thriving of sons over the happiness of daughters. An Ran’s anger and resistance show that traditional ideas about male superiority clash with modern-day Chinese society, where profound changes within gender relations are already taking place.

“Sisters do not dislike their little brothers,” one Weibo commenter wrote: “What they dislike is the hidden meaning behind their brother.”

Another female blogger responded: “Within my family, from my grandpa’s generation up to myself, it is actually the women who discriminate against women. I think these are deeply rooted ideas that can’t be changed. Look at my second elder aunt; she had seven children, all girls, and only four were left. The others were given away. However, my grandfather has always been good to me, and has never made me feel any less than the boys. Yet my grandma and my mother sometimes make me doubt about my life.”

Under the hashtag “How to Evaluate the Movie My Sister” (#如何评价电影我的姐姐#), which attracted 150 million views on Weibo, many ask the question of what they would do if they were An Ran. Would you take care of your little brother? Or would you leave his care up to other family members and choose your own path in life?

“If it were me, I’d raise my brother. Although it’s actually the parents’ problem, the little brother is innocent.”

“If it were me, I wouldn’t raise him,” another commenter writes: “Although the little brother is innocent, I wouldn’t want to sacrifice my life for him. And it might be a better choice to leave him with other family members than with me.”

These discussions also triggered the hashtag “Should Personal Values Be More Important Than Family Values?” (#个人价值必须高于家庭价值吗#). One top commenter raised the issue of ‘what if this was about a little sister instead of about a little brother,’ again provoking the idea that existing gender roles and the preference over sons play a major part in these discussions.

“These traditions no longer suit this era of a developing society. Let me ask you this question: would the little brother also take care of his sister once she grows old?”

“Personal values should always have priority. If you are not happy yourself, how could you ever take care of your family?”

“I have the perception that the family-oriented concept is deep-rooted. Although there consistently are new values and personal-oriented viewpoints, when it comes to real problems, most people will still be family-oriented.”

One commenter wrote: “What are ‘values’? What is the family in modern-day society? What does it mean to prioritize something? If we don’t first clarify this, the discussion becomes meaningless.”

Meanwhile, all the online discussions on Sister have boosted the film. By now, the movie has already become a box office hit and defeated the American Godzilla vs. Kong.

By Manya Koetse

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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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China Celebs

Female Comedian Yang Li and the Intel Controversy

A decision that backfired: Intel’s act of supposed ‘inclusion’ caused the exclusion of female comedian Yang Li.

Manya Koetse

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“How to look at the boycott of Yang Li?” (#如何看待抵制杨笠#) became a top trending topic on social media site Weibo on Monday after female comedian Yang Li was dismissed as the spokesperson for American tech company Intel over a controversial ad campaign.

On March 18, Intel released an ad on its Weibo account in which Yang says “Intel has a taste [for laptops] that is higher than my taste for men” (“英特尔的眼光太高了,比我挑对象的眼光都高.”)

The ad drew complaints for allegedly insulting men, with some social media users vowing to boycott the tech brand. On Sunday, Intel deleted the ad in question from its social media page and reportedly also removed Yang from her position as their brand ambassador.

The commotion over the ad had more to do with Chinese comedian Yang Li (杨笠) than with the specific lines that were featured in it.

Yang Li is controversial for her jokes mocking men (“men are adorable, but mysterious. After all, they can look so average and yet be so full of confidence“), with some blaming her for being “sexist” and “promoting hatred against all men.”

Since she appeared on the stand-up comedy TV competition Rock and Roast (脱口秀大会) last year, she was nicknamed the the “punchline queen” and became one of the more influential comedians in present-day China. Yang now has nearly 1,5 million fans on Weibo (@-杨笠-).

Yang Li’s bold jokes and sharp way of talking about gender roles and differences between men and women in Chinese society is one of the main reasons she became so famous. Intel surely knew this when asking Yang to be their brand ambassador.

In light of the controversy, the fact that Intel was so quick to remove Yang also triggered criticism. Some (male) netizens felt that Intel, a company that sells laptops, could not be represented by a woman who makes fun of men, while these men are a supposed target audience for Intel products.

But after Yang was removed, many (female) netizens also felt offended, suggesting that in the 21st century, Intel couldn’t possibly believe that their products were mainly intended for men (“以男性用户为主”)? Wasn’t their female customer base just as important?

According to online reports, Intel responded by saying: “We noted that the content [we] spread relating to Yang Li caused controversy, and this is not what we had anticipated. We place great importance on diversity and inclusion. We fully recognize and value the diverse world we live in, and are committed to working with partners from all walks of life to create an inclusive workplace and social environment.”

However, Intel’s decision backfired, as many wondered why having Yang as their brand ambassador would not go hand in hand with ‘promoting an inclusive social environment.’

“Who are you being ‘inclusive’ too? Common ‘confident’ men?”, one person wrote, with others saying: “Why can so many beauty and cosmetic brands be represented by male idols and celebrities? I loathe these double standards.”

“As a Chinese guy, I really think Yang Li is funny. I didn’t realize Chinese men had such a lack of humor!” another Weibo user writes.

There are also people raising the issue of Yang’s position and how people are confusing her performative work with her actual character. One popular law blogger wrote: “Really, boycotting Yang Li is meaningless. Stand-up comedy is a performance, just as the roles people play in a TV drama.”

Just a month ago, another Chinese comedian also came under fire for his work as a brand ambassador for female underwear brand Ubras.

It is extremely common in China for celebrities to be brand ambassadors; virtually every big celebrity is tied to one or more brands. Signing male celebrities to promote female-targeted products is also a popular trend (Li 2020). Apparently, there is still a long way to go when the tables are turned – especially when it is about female celebrities with a sharp tongue.

By Manya Koetse

Li, Xiaomeng. 2020. “How powerful is the female gaze? The implication of using male celebrities for promoting female cosmetics in China.” Global Media and China, Vol.5 (1), p.55-68.

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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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