Source: NYT (7/17/22)
Peeling Paint in Hong Kong Reveals Work of Newly Relevant ‘King’
When he was alive, the graffiti of Tsang Tsou-choi, or the “King of Kowloon,” was considered peculiar and personal. In a radically changed city, his mostly vanished art now has a political charge.
By Austin Ramzy
HONG KONG — Often shirtless in summer, smelling of sweat and ink, the aggrieved artist wrote incessantly, and everywhere: on walls, underpasses, lamp posts and traffic light control boxes.
He covered public spaces in Hong Kong with expansive jumbles of Chinese characters that announced his unshakable belief that much of the Kowloon Peninsula rightfully belonged to his family.
During his lifetime, the graffiti artist, Tsang Tsou-choi, was a ubiquitous figure, well-known for his eccentric campaign that struck most as a peculiar personal mission, not a political rallying cry.
But Hong Kong has become a very different place since Mr. Tsang died in 2007, and his work — once commonly spotted, but now largely vanished from the streetscape — has taken on a new resonance in a city where much political expression has been stamped out by a sweeping campaign against dissent since 2020.
“In his lifetime, particularly early on, people thought he was completely crazy,” said Louisa Lim, author of “Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong,” a new book that examines Mr. Tsang’s legacy. “Even at the time that he died no one was really interested in the content or the political message of his work. But actually, he was talking about these Hong Kong preoccupations long before other people were — territory, sovereignty, dispossession and loss.” Continue reading