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‘Popaganda’ Art Posters Capture the Vibe of Shanghai Lockdown

Simon Fong’s Shanghai lockdown-inspired ‘popaganda’ art addresses food shortages and one viral (and crude) joke involving eating one’s neighbor

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Apr 18, 2022 1 mins read

During the first wave of Covid-19 in China in 2020, artists in the nation expressed themselves the best way they knew how: By producing lockdown art. As Shanghai enters its third week of citywide lockdowns, a similar trend has emerged. For some, it seems, creating art is just as important as maintaining an adequate supply of groceries.

Simon Fong, a Malaysian designer and illustrator based in Shanghai, has put his observations on paper and created a series of ‘popaganda‘ posters.

The series draws elements from Mao-era propaganda posters, with the clean lines and bold strokes in red, black, and white capturing a general feeling of unrest among the public. At the same time, its characters and captions tackle recurring themes with humor and panache.

The images are triumphant, despite the disastrous situations they depict.

Fong’s art addresses going through endless rounds of Covid tests, food shortages, and other lockdown woes, plus one viral (and tasteless) joke involving eating one’s neighbor.

“During this tough period, it is paramount to interpret things in a humorous, light manner.”

“My lockdown art has hidden meaning, and it’s there for others to interpret,” the artist tells RADII. “I’m trying to tell people something by integrating historical references.”

Mao Zedong

PRC propaganda poster featuring members of the working class under the guidance of Mao Zedong during the ’60s in China. Image via Wikimedia

The posters have been lauded by Chinese youth, many of whom have asked Fong to sell them as prints. Many apparently resonate with the artist’s depiction of Shanghai ‘traveling backward’ in time.

The series encapsulates how confinement has altered a dynamic city, reducing it to isolated compounds that rely wholly on government supplies and ‘group buying.’

The artist also made the series into NFTs and has started selling them online.

Thumbnails of googly-eyed animals by Simon Fong

An advertising industry veteran, Fong moved from Kuala Lumpur to Shanghai to pursue career opportunities in commercial design.

“In the world’s second-biggest economy, clients have huge budgets and an international scope, allowing designers to access more ambitious projects,” he says.

In his spare time, Fong develops personal art projects that relate to “both locals and expats.” His artwork can be viewed on Instagram and NFT platforms.

Unless otherwise stated, all images courtesy of Simon Fong

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