Friday, 18 September 2009

Faces of 798

If you’ve been reading for a while you might have realised that I’m a bit of a fan of 798, the Beijing gallery area. On my second to last Beijing weekend, I took a meandering trip around the area, searching out the hidden corners which were full of intensely graffitied walls and interesting doors and windows.

These are some of my favourites: the Lichtenstein-esque women remind me of the shock and awe and wonder that not only did I feel as a green expat, but that my Chinese friends expressed at the tumultuous history they’d lived through, their excitement about China’s rapid development, and also the hushed conversations about their secret fears and resentments.

The ginger cat made me think of my own ginger feline, but also, strangely, some of my students and their quietly defiant curiosity.

The last image was hard to capture owing to some vaguely remembered physical obstacle, so we’ll all have to make do with fragments. Why is he shooting? What is he shooting? Hands? Smoke? If they’re hands, why are they coming out of a chimney, or a gun barrel? Why is he looking away?

Even if the man refuses to acknowledge his deed, the dove is there, watching. Despite being a tiny part of the design, the watching dove seemed to me to be the metaphorical as well as the literal centre of the work. What do you think?


  1. Hi this blog is full of art, art has no borders.

    Greetings from creativity and imagination photos of Jose Ramon

  2. The dove is an interesting addition. I wonder if it represents peace in China, as it would here... Peace vs. violence. Maybe that's the theme?

  3. I wondered if the shooter was an athlete, like a professional shooter in a tournament. They often close their other eye to get better aim.

  4. Jose - thanks.

    Janie - I think you're on the something there, and the dove certainly seems to be contrary to what else is going on.

    chrome3d- perhaps a sneaky Olympics reference?

  5. Intersting Graffiti J, nicely captured-I like your new blog design btw:)

  6. 798 looks great. I'm surprised that such a place exists in Beijing because graffiti's generally a subversive artform and at the very least requires thought and discussion (internal or verbal) to interpret. I don't expect these things to be encouraged in China. But what do i know?