New Man strips off for Arts Centre show

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 September, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 September, 1998, 12:00am

A nude sculpture which came under fire when it first appeared in the SAR three years ago, will go on show at the Hong Kong Arts Centre next month - minus its cardboard fig leaf.

The statue, titled New Man, was the subject of an Obscene Articles Tribunal row in June 1995. It is to be displayed au naturel for a year from October 10.

The work by the late Dame Elisabeth Frink caused a furore when it first appeared in the foyer of owners Kailey Enterprises in Central. The tribunal demanded New Man's 'partially erect' penis be hidden from the gaze of children.

Kailey complied with the ruling by covering the offending area with a cardboard fig leaf until the decision was quashed on appeal.

While the appeal was being heard, the statue - valued in 1995 at between $491,000 and $614,000 - was sent to the Arts Centre for 10 days to demonstrate its role as a piece of art.

Arts Centre exhibition director Oscar Ho Hing-kay said since the controversy New Man had come to represent more than art.

'New Man became a symbol of artistic expression in Hong Kong,' Mr Ho said.

'It was one of the objects that wasn't allowed to be seen in a public space - like the Pillar of Shame.

'We want to sensitise the public that we should be receptive to defending the right to be seen.' Former legislator Peggy Lam Pei Yu-dja, known for her anti-pornography stance, said she was 'quite happy' to see the piece on display.

'It is a piece of art. It should never have been treated as obscene,' she said.

New Man will be displayed with news clippings detailing its controversial history.