jeudi 17 mai 2012

Shanghai Stencils

Two days in Shanghai … Meetings, meetings, meetings … And a short break to rush to the Moganshan Road district where, I have been told, street art is to be found ! A huge urban area dotted with dilapidated workshops and abandoned warehouses, the place indeed offers enough walls to keep all the local and visiting street artists buzy for a while … And among the graffiti stencils, the major contribution seems to be from Siu, aka The Orange Blowfish … So I have asked him a couple of questions :

Hello Siu, why and how did you get into stencils ?

I got into stencils because I had done screen printing before, during my school days, and found it translated well to street art. You can be quick on the street - the obvious answer - but take hours of preparation … Which is something people tend to forget ! Most important, I find stencils are an easier access art to the public at large. I think that street art should be accessible to everyone and not just to the writers who understand how to read wildstyle graffs. It should make people think but also provide humor and brighten up people’s lives. Shanghai in particular can be very stressful, with over 20 million people trying to "make it" and I want my art to give them some relief from the day to day grind. I get a real buzz when an old lady walks past and tells me she likes my work !

What are your ongoing projects ?

My main project is actually part of a series I am doing called "squatters rights". As I said before, I think graffs should not only be accessible to the public but they should be also relevant to the surroundings of the city where they are displayed. China is changing every second of every minute of every hour of every day. It is the fastest country to go through an industrial revolution and with this I find that the culture is changing and being lost just as fast. I wanted the squatters to represent the chinese culture of the past and how this basic right to squat is being lost as it is considered uncivilized by western cultures to squat on the street. If you try it, you will find it is actually one of the most comfortable positions for the body to be in. Make sure that you rest your weight back and have both heels down, otherwise it will cause cramps in your legs ! As for the yin and yang squatters in particular, they are my take on the traditional chinese door gods. These were used in olden Chinese times to ward off evil spirits from entering your house. I did these to squatters as good luck charms. One represents male and one is female. I will leave it to you to figure out which one is which !

How is the stencil scene in China ? 

I know of two or three other stencil artists in Shanghai who are semi-active around town. Street art in China is still new but with more business being done with the West comes the exploration of western cultures and arts. Street art is becoming more popular but still there is only a small group of writers and even fewer stencilers. My dream is to see the city covered with beautiful street art which would represent this amazing city and brighten up people’s lives !

Siu left the corporate world two years ago to develop his artistic platform, which comprises graffiti stencils, sculptures and other amazing and equally talented activities. More information is available at ! Also, if you happen to be in the Moganshan – Changhua area one of these days, you may get a chance to see artworks from other stencilists, including Brand Fury and Beijing-based Aniu.

Interview and pictures are copyrighted by Serge-Louis for Brigadier Plipp. Thanks to Siu for agreeing to be interviewed. My gratitude also goes to Baptiste Fallevoz for pointing me in the right direction.