CULTURE

Invader’s Hong Kong street art returns with a HK$1m price tag at Sotheby’s

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 December, 2014, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 December, 2014, 12:44pm

Street art made of a mosaic of colourful tiles, which was trashed by the government earlier this year, is being resurrected with an estimated price tag of more than HK$1 million.

Named Alias HK_58, by French street artist Invader, the piece will be up for auction next month at a Sotheby's Hong Kong contemporary art sale.

It first appeared in Happy Valley at the start of this year as one of 75 street artworks that Invader created in the city during his "artistic invasion".

The version to be auctioned is made of ceramic tiles on a glass panel - a replica of the original street artwork - and is expected to fetch between HK$1 million and HK$1.5 million. The work embodies the image of Hong Kong Phooey, a kung fu-fighting dog from a 1970s American cartoon series of the same name.

Isaure de Viel Castel, head of mid-season sales at Sotheby's contemporary and modern fine arts department, said the work was a tribute to Bruce Lee and "specifically created for Hong Kong, which illustrates perfectly the city's dynamic … art scene".

But the work, along with many other Invader art pieces inspired by the 1970s arcade game Space Invaders, was removed by the Highways Department in February and March. The department said they were removed on safety grounds.

The incident sparked a public outcry, with supporters slamming the government for failing to understand arts and culture at a time when it was spending billions of dollars building the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Invader said in February that having "invaded" more than 60 cities, Hong Kong was the first to remove his street art, despite the city aspiring to be a cultural hub for Asia with the opening of the cultural district and international galleries. He said he was "very saddened and affected by these removal actions".

Previously, street calligraphy by the late "King of Kowloon" Tsang Tsou-choi was also painted over by the government, but objects bearing his works have been sold at Sotheby's auctions.

The Sotheby's Hong Kong sale "Boundless: Contemporary Art" will also feature Tracey Emin's neon work Trust Me, the first of the English artist's creations to appear at a Hong Kong auction. It is expected to fetch HK$250,000 to HK$350,000.

An ink and acrylic piece on canvas by late French-Chinese painter T'ang Haywen - the largest ink on canvas work by the artist - is expected to sell for HK$700,000 to HK$1 million.

They are among 100 pieces featured in the sale, which has a total estimate of HK$30 million, excluding the buyer's premium. An exhibition at Sotheby's Admiralty gallery runs from January 15 to 20. The auction is January 20.