Down the rabbit hole with the Orange Blowfish

Talking murals and calligraphy with the Shanghai-based street artist

Siu Hung-Tang spraying a wall in Shanghai
While he promised fire- breathing piranhas, unfortunately these ‘didn’t quite clear Chinese border control’ in time for the first solo opening by Siu-Hung Tang – aka The Orange Blowfish – at the Magda Danyz Gallery. Nonetheless, the relaxed, sunny affair wasn’t in need of any theatrics. The elegant space suits Tang’s hypnotic works in a way that might seem surprising to those who are used to seeing his street art on rough and ready-to-be- demolished buildings across Shanghai.

SIU HUNG TANG

Tang explains that his most famous Rabbit Holes series came about through a desire to transport the buildings on which they’re painted to a safe place. ‘Shanghai is a city that is constantly changing; buildings are being torn up to make way for new developments, and its original residents are left with very little. Rabbit Holes began as a way to leave the local people with a lasting memory of their homes, before they were kicked out and moved on.’

Inspired by his childhood love for Alice in Wonderland, and later student years watching The Matrix on repeat, Tang sees Rabbit Holes as taking the narrative one step further, in a hyper-modern re-telling of a story of ultimate escapism. ‘I love to see people stood directly in front of the rabbit holes staring in to them, as though they could fall straight into them and disappear into an unknown land.’

orange blowfish rabbit hole

Having moved to Shanghai eight years ago, Tang now works as a graphic designer. He says he felt immediately embraced by an understanding and accepting art community. ‘I will always be inspired by Shanghai, because it is here that I have been given so many opportunities to grow and expand as an artist. I came here with no real experience, no formal art education, but I have always found that with passion and the drive to be successful, you can get anywhere.’

In his own words, Tang describes his street art as ‘fast and dirty’, with his colourful, psychedelic pieces covering ‘ideal canvases’ of three- storey buildings, and often being completed in less than a couple of hours. He views these personal works as a cathartic rebellion against the formalities of traditional ink painting, yet is enthusiastically inspired by his life-long admiration for Chinese calligraphy. ‘Calligraphy artists elicit complete control within their work, in the way they hold the brush, and in the way each stroke is so purposeful and organised,’ he says. ‘However, the real calligraphy masters are able to do this in a way that doesn’t look at all limited. Although my work is organic and relaxed, the lines are organised within their fluidity.’
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