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Graffiti Asia book. Ryo Sanada / Suridh Hassan. (Laurence King, ISBN 978 1 85669 649 4, RRP 16.95, includes DVD)

"if you pay, everything is OK. I paint near my home and the Police said 'Hey what are you doing?' I didn't say anything. I can't say 'I do graffiti.' I just shut up and he kept asking me. I asked him if he could help me out and he asked how much I have in my pocket. I had 400 Baht so he took that and it was easy. If you're a foreigner, maybe a maximum of 3000 Baht. Welcome, welcome". - KPER, Bangkok.

A different perspective on the scene - that's what we want from a graffiti book that comes from another continent. Sure there are plenty of New York clones operating in the territories covered by this volume but there's much to find that's different to what you see going up in your average urban Western landscape.

In China, the author notes, the closer you get to the seat of government the more surveillance increases. Going 'all city' in Beijing and holding it down is not going to be an option. Going further out finds two of the best writers in the book, YYY and NAN in Shenzen, who have their own organic style in a city which features it's own massive 'great wall' of graffiti in the Hung Wu area. 

In Wuhan DAL's colourful pieces are both appreciated and dangerously attention seeking - leading at one time to 20 cops kicking down his front door suspecting him of a being a terrorist after he painted 'bomb the city' on a police box in the run up to the 2008 Olympics.

The book's tour through Asia takes in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philipines, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea (not surprisingly there's nothing from North Korea!) and Taiwan. It's the shots of graffiti in context that really make this a visual delight. Seeing Kimes tagging in Bangkok with a backdrop of a pink pollution haze, the relentless armies of tower blocks in Shanghai fronted by freeform letters and the smothered Walls of Hong Kong really capture the Asian scene but it needs more of these.

Graffiti in Asia is still developing fast. Its pushing out, sometimes crossing into the commercial but has the dynamic associated with reaching new frontiers and painting virgin territory. This book neatly captures the origins of a scene, not its last played out death throes. In a few years time a follow up should be even more amazing with a hopefully more distinctively Asian style emerging.

 

Graffiti Asia Book

Graffiti Asia

STREET ART GRAFFITI INDEX

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Stickers 1 2
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Paste ups 1 2 3
Text graffiti 1 2
other graffiti images 1 2

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Graffiti DVD's 1

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