Friday, August 03, 2007

Hong Kong's OAP graffiti artist dies aged 86

An elderly Hong Kong graffiti artist whose work has been shown at the Venice Biennial and auctioned at Sotherby's has passed away at the age of 86.

Tsang Tsou-choi aka 'The King of Kowloon' was something of a local celebrity and his writings - often incoherent, obscenity-strewn rants and ramblings about his own, supposed royal status - were a recognised part of the city's cultural landscape.

Now there are calls for the remaining examples of his unique graffiti to be preserved as part of Hong Kong's heritage.

A grubby man who looked like a tramp and who many thought barking mad, Tsang spent five decades roaming the metropolis -- often shirtless and on crutches -- scrawling his idiosyncratic calligraphy on lamp-posts, walls, phone boxes, pedestrian underpasses and electrical boxes.

"To some extent he's quite cuckoo," said leading Hong Kong fashion designer William Tang, a longtime admirer of Tsang who used the graffiti as a motif for several clothing ranges.

"I started to look at the calligraphy carefully and found it's not just a joke. It has some kind of power, which is very raw, very original," Tang added.

The police pitted themselves against the graffiti artist in a cat and mouse game for years, effacing his work wherever they found it and detaining him several times.

Tsang stubbornly kept at his task -- even on crutches in his 80s -- but was forced to retire when his legs finally gave way.

Article from Reuters.

Related: Tsang Tsou-choi at the Venice Biennial 2003

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