Ximending (西門町) street art [Taipei kong mahal 180502: Gratified by the Graffiti] | Travel in Asia

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ximending (西門町) street art [Taipei kong mahal 180502: Gratified by the Graffiti]


Taipei’s graffiti.  Bold, colorful and expressive.  I have been hearing a lot of these street artworks since the first day I arrived in the city.   But where are they? They are kept hidden by the number of boutiques, shops, and restaurants that fill the alleys of Ximending.  There is no doubt that it's the Shibuya of Taipei!  Everywhere you go, you can see and feel the magic of capitalism.  It’s a world where your money can buy many things.  So it seems natural that there is no place for art here to exist.  Or is it?  

In this episode of the My Beloved Taipei Travel Series, I took a colorful journey to an unfamiliar territory where both the alluring and annoying coexist.  Armed with a Google Map app on my smartphone, I wandered the streets of western Taipei to look for those amazing walls that gave new life to the boring corners of the capital. 

Vandalism or art?  They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The graffiti of Ximending is an art for me and also for the many visitors who took their time to have pictures with the drawing on the concrete wall.  Spray-painted or drawn using the hand.  It doesn't matter.  They are gifts from talented people who spend their time expressing their emotions on an inanimate object.   So here are some of the interesting things that I saw while exploring the backstreet of the shopping district.

“The Walls”.  A giant image of a basketball star can be seen in this open space.  It functions as a parking lot for scooters while its green grass gives visitors some fresh air.  But beyond the lot are the buildings with large colorful paintings as high as a four-story house.  Their humongous size is just perfect for some selfies.  One must hurry in taking selfies the moment you see them during your visit in Taiwan.  The images can change from time to time as they fade and redrawn again by a different artist. 

Taipei Cinema Park.  Just beside “The Walls”, is an old building with a giant chimney.  An urban landscaping of an old industrial zone turned into another park.   There is a covered court and a footbridge that you can walk on.   Functioning as a place for leisure and a venue for promoting the cinema culture in Ximeding, there are some graffiti to enjoy at.

Bravo, the Taipei Universiade's mascot can be seen on a container van.  Memories of the largest sporting event ever held in Taiwan are still fresh in the memories of the Taiwanese.  Beside the container van are some exercise equipment.   Build some muscles with those machines.  But read the instructions before using them.  Oops! The guide had been blended with the painting on the wall.  Haha!

Godzilla.  Who says that monsters aren't real?  Here in Ximending, the king of the beasts lives as a collection of soda cans.  Pieces of thin layers of aluminum placed on top of one another to form the body of the monster while old tires were used to form its tail.  Beside Godzilla is a small house painted with bright colors.  On what kind of message the artist wants to convey to passersby will depend on how they see recycling as a form of art and a garbage as a unique form of diamonds.

Wuchang Street.  This is the mecca of Ximending's graffiti with the “red-crowned crane” as its masterpiece.  The wall of the multi-story house had been painted with a pair of these birds with their feet positioned above an exhaust vent.   Walk on the street and see more beautiful nuisances.  Take a look at the facade of the WOW restaurant and the alleys in front it.  They are all teeming with life.  

Don't be surprised when you see some models doing some pictorials in Ximending.   I was lucky to see a guy dressed in a weird costume with his team of fellow models and photographers.   When the man posed for the camera,  it gave me the feeling that they were trying to make humans as a graffiti or the people as part of the painting on the wall.  Whatever it may be, I believe my objectives in this travel adventure and their intentions are the same.   Everyone who went here in Ximen to find the street art wants to do one thing.   To be amazed in awe while at the same time be gratified by the graffiti.

How to get here:  Board the Taipei MRT and alight at Ximen Station.  Go to Exit 6.  You can find most of the graffiti in the Taipei Cinema Park [Google Map], The Walls [Google Map] and Wuchang Street [Google Map]


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