Lonely Kidney’s surreal posters merge vintage aesthetics with futuristic satire

The Hong Kong-based artist pokes fun at advertising, film and popular culture while changing the notions of what constitutes ‘beautiful’ design.

5 July 2023


Surrealism and satire come together to form Alistar Huang’s – aka Lonely Kidney – oeuvre. Her posters are an amalgamation of old-fashioned and futuristic elements from film, popular music, memes and advertising; think of an alien coming down to earth to remind us of all our cringe vintage aesthetics and beliefs while also giving us a glimpse into the future. With a mission to create “multilayered narratives”, she is constantly challenging the notion of what we constitute as beautiful design. “I combine discordant and imperfect elements to create a harmonious chaos,” she tells us. This can be seen in a recent piece where Lonely Kidney has put a spin on the Viagra ad with, of course, images of courgettes and a small print caption saying ‘you should be at least 18 years' old to access our website.’

Hailing from Hong Kong, Lonely Kidney’s first solo exhibition 'kitschy, kitschy, kitschy’ featured a number of works delving into the absurdity of popular culture and the imagery we take in. One poster tells us to ‘stay hydrated’ with not even the smallest visual allusion to water, while another has a background of cackling mouths and ‘ha ha ha ha’ in large letters with a straight-faced figure in the foreground. It pokes fun at advertising while also showing us how we are creating a similar dissociation between what it is we genuinely feel or believe, and what we are saying in cute captions and emoji reactions online. Her work presents something truly intriguing and unique, and there is definite beauty in its ability to make us laugh at ourselves.


Lonely Kidney: Stay Hydrated (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)


Lonely Kidney: Look at me (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)


Lonely Kidney: Peace (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)


Lonely Kidney: Sugar baby (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)


Lonely Kidney: Lie-flat (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)


Lonely Kidney: Viagra (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)


Lonely Kidney: Is it reality? (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)


Lonely Kidney: Love your kidneys (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)


Lonely Kidney: Good Morning (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)


Lonely Kidney: Love me like you do (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)

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Lonely Kidney: Hahaha (Copyright © Lonely Kidney, 2023)

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About the Author

Yaya Azariah Clarke

Yaya (they/them) joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in June 2023 and became a staff writer in November of the same year. With a particular interest in Black visual culture, they have previously written for publications such as WePresent, alongside work as a researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.

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