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Beijing Graffiti

Tom Dartnell & Liu Yuan Sheng

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A complex and contradictory graffiti culture has been brewing over the last few decades in one of the least expected settings—China’s capital. Through an unparalleled collection of one local photographer’s images, as well as interviews with 25 prolific artists, see how Beijing has developed its graffiti movement against the backdrop of the once-secluded nation’s rise to global economic might. While Beijing graffiti artists take their cue from the subculture’s Western origins, the local scene has also been highly influenced by both foreign visitors and traditional Chinese art and culture. Profiles of significant artists explore the dynamics of creative self-expression in such a perceivedly authoritarian setting, including the surprising amount of freedom they have to make their art undisturbed compared to Western counterparts. A must for graffiti enthusiasts, Sinophiles, and anyone interested in how this colorful subculture is still growing half a century after it emerged.

Size: 11" x 8 1/2" x 3/4" | 348 color images | 192 pp
ISBN13: 9780764360534

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Liu Yuan Sheng is a retired magazine editor who began documenting in 2004 the graffiti appearing on the walls of China’s capital. After starting a blog showcasing his photos in 2007, he soon became familiar with many of the main players in Beijing’s graffiti community, earning the affectionate title ‘Liu Laoshi (Teacher Liu)’. Liu, who has amassed a collection of more than 10,000 images, features in the 2012 documentary Spray Paint Beijing. He can’t speak English. Tom Dartnell began documenting graffiti in his native Brighton, UK in 1988. By the early 1990s, he was fully immersed in the subculture, painting alongside some of the local kings. A journalist by trade, he’s had spells overseeing the graffiti section of Hip-Hop Connection magazine and as the editor of Graphotism. He has lived in Asia since 2010 and has worked for publications such as Shanghai Daily, Bangkok Post, and Time Out Beijing. He can’t speak Chinese.