French undercover artist Invader blasts Hong Kong government for removing work as Harbour City embraces latest ‘invasion’

Eighteen artworks by Invader, who keeps his identity secret, have been found around the mall after his third trip to Hong Kong in September, with another 14 artworks elsewhere in the city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 October, 2017, 6:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 October, 2017, 4:00pm

The French undercover artist Invader has lashed out at the Hong Kong government for removing his artwork as the city’s largest shopping centre embraced his latest mosaic “invasion”.

The 40-something artist – whose pieces have sold for millions of dollars – said the government and private citizens have often been at odds when it comes to appreciating his creations.

“I put some sensitive pieces on the walls of Harbour City and they reacted on social networks to say that they were honoured and that they would preserve my art,” the artist said in an email to the Post on Monday. “Unfortunately it looks like nothing has changed for [government departments] which removed a piece on a bridge on Des Voeux Road two days after it was installed! But I guess that is the risks of the game! ”

Eighteen of 32 new artworks by Invader, who keeps his identity secret, are in various parts of Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui, which has more than 2 million sq ft of floor space and more than 450 shops.

They include a blue Space Invader with the Hong Kong flag on a part of the building that opens up to a scenic view of Victoria Harbour.

Last week, the Post reported that the artist covertly visited Hong Kong for the third time in September, leaving behind 32 new artworks in different locations. They include pieces with marine motifs (a mermaid and an anchor) as well as common emoji; some are several centimetres wide while others take up entire walls.

“There is now a long history between myself and Hong Kong. I’ve started working in its streets in 2001 so I know the city better each time. It is always a pleasure for me to install some new works and to continue writing the story of my Invasion of Hong Kong.”

Andrew Yeung, senior manager for promotions and advertising at Harbour City, said all the works around the mall were completed within one night in late September.

Security guards came across a group of four to five unknown people in the new wing of Ocean Terminal, a pier for cruise liners next to the mall, and upon quizzing them, were told, “We are Invader”.

The guards called Yeung, who was surprised that Invader was installing his artwork in a commercial space, as he usually did so at street level in places with high foot traffic, such as Causeway Bay.

“We let them finish the work, with some of the works inside the shopping centre,” Yeung said, adding that it took staff a whole day to locate the 18 installations.

The management and Invader are now discussing possible cooperation on art projects, he said. Hong Kong’s art community and netizens appreciate Invader’s work, with a government department’s removal of his art from street walls in 2014 sparking an uproar.

Street artist Invader responds after his art is wiped from Hong Kong’s walls

The installations were done as Harbour City, owned by Wharf Holdings, completed construction of a new five-storey extension at Ocean Terminal, designed by renowned architectural firm Foster and Partners.

In the new wing, one can choose from 11 restaurants, lounge in a rooftop garden, and get an unobstructed view of the Hong Kong Island skyline, as well as the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Additional reporting by Raymond Yeung and Kylie Knott