In a past post I rather frankly attributed modern Chinese culture as being tacky.  And for the most part, I still hold to those ideals.  Rhinestones are one of the more popular fashion statements, children’s cartoon characters are used for adult marketing campaigns, and Chinese pop music makes late nineties bubble gum pop sound like free from jazz in comparison.

Photographer Luo Yang is one of many talented artists that Neocha has recently featured.

But thanks to the folks over at Lost Laowai, I recently discovered NeochaEdge, a bilingual arts and culture website dedicated to covering the best visual art, music, and film to emerge from China.  In his recent post about Neocha, Ryan at Lost Laowai accredited the

website as “the source of reversing my opinion about creativity in China,”  and I would certainly have to agree with Ryan on this.  Neocha’s writing is crisp and descriptive, they have wide-reaching subject matter, and the artists they feature are consistently talented.  If you’re an artist, musician, filmmaker, or just someone who likes out-of-the-box creativity, I would strongly advise giving Neocha a good once-over.

While many of the artists featured on Neocha such as illustrator Yan Wei, retain their Chinese identity in their work, the influence of Western Pop art is easy to see.

But the more I poked through Neocha’s archive of posts and articles, the more I began to question their classification as a website dedicated to covering the best of strictly Chinese art and culture.  Yes, all artists featured on Neocha are Chinese based, but the vast majority of them are based out of either Beijing or Shanghai with the occasional Hong Konger thrown into the mix.  While these three cities might be the cultural centers of China, they also represent a vastly different culture than that of the rest of the country.  Beijing is by all rights one of the most internationally influenced cities in the world.  Shanghai retains many of the characteristics of French culture left over from its colonization, and Hong Kong has only tectonically been a part of China since 1999 when the British government returned sovereignty to China. As a result, while much of the art that comes out of these three cities might represent a progression in Chinese creativity, it does not necessarily represent the culture of greater China, and instead is the result of a multicultural influences with a Chinese twist.

In an interview with Neocha, members of the Chinese Ska band The Trouble admitted that they’re not the first Chinese ska band, but simultaneously admitted that Chinese ska is often times not up to par,

Chinese Ska Band, The Trouble, kickin' out some kickass tunes.

implying that most of their influences are international bands.  This begs the question, are the artists featured on Neocha truly the best creative minds that China has to offer, or does my ethnocentric perception of aesthetic quality contort my ability to recognize the true value of Chinese art that truly represents the culture of this nation.  Are Chinese people really tacky, or  am I just arrogant?

No matter what the answer is to this question, it doesn’t take away from the good work that the folks over at Neocha are doing, and I want to round off this post by personally thanking them for exposing me to the fascinating and talented artists they feature on their site.  Keep up the good work guys!

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