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HomeArts & Culture‘Thousands of hate messages’: Chinese artist behind London street art scandal

‘Thousands of hate messages’: Chinese artist behind London street art scandal

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‘Thousands of hate messages’: Chinese artist behind London’s Brick Lane street art scandal reveals his work’s true meaning and his frustration over the response

Wang Hanzheng says his graffiti of Chinese political slogans on London’s Brick Lane ‘raises strong doubts about the Western rule of law and democracy’He is frustrated people aren’t seeing the work’s deeper purpose, saying he has received hate messages from both patriotic and anti-China communitiesArtHayley WongPublished: 4:15pm, 30 Sep, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

With relations between China and the West as fraught as they are today, the August 4 spraying of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda slogans over one of the most public symbols of artistic freedom in London was never going to pass unnoticed.

While the Chinese characters denoting “socialist values” are no longer visible on the large graffiti wall in Brick Lane – the local authority promptly had them covered up – the artist behind the provocative work continues to suffer online abuse after images of the stencilled words spread around the world.

Everything that has happened since August 4 will simply become part of the artwork, titled East London Socialist Core Values, says its 28-year-old creator Wang Hanzheng, a graduate student at London’s Royal College of Art who goes by the alias Yi Que.

Whether the work is considered a prank or an ingenious piece of public art, the self-proclaimed troublemaker says he was going for an “intense impact with the environment”.

He and his friends whitewashed the busy 100-metre-long wall – which included much-loved graffiti works, including a tribute to the late street artist Marty – and stencilled large red simplified Chinese characters denoting the CCP’s 12 “core socialist values” – such as freedom, prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony – that are seen displayed everywhere on the streets of mainland China.

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