Chinatown - poster

This poster was published by the Underground in 1988. It was designed by the leading Royal Academician John Bellany to stimulate travel to Chinatown. His oil painting was recognised for its artistic merit and intellectual handling of the subject. However, as a poster it sparked much controversy. Bellany sought to capture the mystique of Chinatown, which he described as 'a mixture of buzzing excitement and sophisticated sedate reflection'. However, the themes he chose to explore were highly complex. He alludes to a power struggle between the East and West and the decadence of the Soho from which Chinatown emerged. Such subject matter presented a complicated marketing message. Much of the controversy was born of misinterpretation. The portrayal of the Chinese was criticised for appearing threatening and sinister. The text on the window actually reads, 'Everybody Happy Food Shop', and the people's expressions were designed to convey the natural reserve of their character.
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