iSurprise King of Kowloon Graffiti

Ink artwork by the city’s best-known graffiti artist

“I am not an artist, but I am an emperor”
— King of Kowloon

Calligraphy graffiti

This one is easy to miss, but if you look closely, you can vaguely see a few calligraphy characters on three lampposts. They are painted by the 'King of Kowloon', one of Hong Kong's most iconic artists. He passed away in 2007, but his works now fetch tens of thousands of dollars at international art auctions.

Royal art

The King—his real name was Tsang Tsou-choi—claimed he was a direct descendant of the royal Sung princes and should rule the whole peninsula of Kowloon. He took his brushes and ink to the streets and started painting his royal patents and decrees all over Kowloon, on lampposts, walls and bus shelters. Graffiti, vandalism or art? To the King of Kowloon, it was a political statement. He once said: "I am not an artist, but I am an emperor".

A lasting legacy

For many years, the King of Kowloon's calligraphy graffiti was routinely painted over by government officials. But after he passed away in 2007, his works became sought after; they were exhibited by google, auctioned by Sotheby's and acquired by the M+ Museum. Since then, the government has been finding ways to preserve his art. His best-preserved work is a graffitied lamp post at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier.

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