5 min read

Artist Xia Cheng’an Celebrates China’s Lowbrow Culture

Artist Xia Cheng’an Celebrates China’s Lowbrow Culture

Too busy to get your daily dose of RADII? We got you every Tuesday with a summary of all the freshest takes on China’s youth culture in the last week.

  • From tacky to tasteful: Xia Cheng'an's kaleidoscopic art blurs distinctions between lowbrow culture and high design.
  • Has your WeChat status been feeling a little empty? Some attentive WeChat users recently discovered a — uh, unique — function on the Chinese super-app: You can add animal-themed stickers to your ‘status’ page.
  • Unable to fly to Italy? No problem. The 2022 Far East Film Festival will go ‘hybrid’ for the second year in a row. Of the 42 competing titles to watch, 17 are from Greater China!
  • A Bilibili marketing specialist walks us through the challenges of China’s eight-month freeze on new video game releases, a ban that authorities (seemingly) lifted earlier this week.

Intrigued? Keep scrolling, my friend.

More Is More: Artist Xia Cheng’an Celebrates China’s Lowbrow Culture

Who gets to say what’s tasteful and what’s tacky? Why should designers succumb to the dictatorship of minimalism? Is anyone else getting a little tired of the Scandi-Japanese plainness? These are questions posed by Shanghai-based artist Xia Cheng’an, who, through kaleidoscopic, hyper-colourful, and totally mind-boggling videos, collages, and installations, renders ‘the best of the worst’ from China’s so-called lowbrow culture into art.

“The very words’ taste’ and ‘aesthetics’ annoy me. They are full of arrogance and prejudice,” he says. “I wanted to use trashy and lowbrow visual language to destroy tidy, beautiful, ‘professional’ design and irritate people who think design is about taste and aesthetics — this is the starting point of my practice.”

Xia follows the ‘more is more’ aesthetic in a positively disorientating way, producing work that is far more exhilarating and dazzling than it is visually pleasing. In fact, pleasing would be the least suitable term to describe it — even browsing through his website is a headache-inducing experience.

Xia’s color scheme is composed of saturated tones, mostly bright red and golden yellow, representing China in all its glory. He uses a myriad of colliding symbols mixed with brazen typography, all delivered in an utterly cluttered layout that leaves you overwhelmed, even dizzy, wanting to rest your eyes after a minute or so.

In most parts of the world, sports fans rely on ESPN, Reddit Sports, the CNN or BBC sports pages, or Yahoo for the latest scores and game updates. But in China, sports commentary and news platform Hupu is the go-to place for many young sports fans, especially the male demographic.

According to Qianfan Analysys, 94% of Hupu users identify as male, and 67% are under the age of 29. Additionally, Hupu had the most active users among all Chinese sports apps as of November 2020.

The platform was established in 2004 and has become an all-around online sports forum covering most sports, including basketball, soccer, Formula 1, esports, and more.

Basketball and soccer are Hupu’s core pillars and the reason for its decades-long popularity. However, the forum has also become a community for straight males to discuss issues beyond sports, such as relationships, gossip, and lifestyle-themed topics.

Learn how Hupu went from being a basketball forum to the largest sports website in China.

Episode 1 of Way of the Warrior is officially online and ready for you to enjoy. The first instalment follows the journey of up-and-coming fighter Shi and explores the success of her idol — China’s first UFC world champion.

Watch Way of the Warrior Episode 1 now:

Episode 2 will officially drop on radiichina.com and RADII’s official YouTube channel on April 27.

So, check back then for the documentary’s finale, which profiles Song Yadong’s move to America to train with UFC legend Urijah Faber and the evolving journey of Tibetan fighter Qiu Lun.

  • As Shanghai enters its third week of lockdown, members of the city's artistic community are expressing themselves the best way they know how: By creating lockdown art. Simon Fong’s Shanghai lockdown-inspired ‘popaganda’ art addresses food shortages and one viral (and crude) joke involving eating one’s neighbor.
  • While wandering around the temporary hospital and chatting with strangers, food blogger Zhuyi realized that not everyone wanted to leave as badly as he did.
  • A legendary brand of the Shaolin scene has dropped a new sneaker collection immortalizing one of kung fu’s chosen sons.

Are you a gifted meme maker? Or a storyteller crazy about Chinese youth culture? Take a look below, because we’re currently hiring for the following positions:

Find us on our main site, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and WeChat (@radiichina)