KING OF KOWLOON TSANG TSO-CHOI
PEOPLEText: Shinobu Koike
When you walk around Hong Kong, especially streets in Kowloon side, quite often you see Chinese calligraphic graffiti on utility poles & boxes, postboxes and walls. The author of these calligraphies is Mr.Tsang Tso-Choi who calls himself as the King of Kowloon in his works which have a few variety of subjects such as “I’m the King of Kowloon whose lands were taken by the British”. Since he has been calligraphing everywhere, most of Hong Kong people are familiar with his calligraphy. So, he is a bit famous guy in Hong Kong.
Recently, Tsang Tso-Choi became the subject for a documentary film “King of Kowloon” produced by Joanne Shen&Martin Egan. This film pictures Tsang Tso-choi’s daily life and himself with weaving voices of professors, a photographer who has been taking him and his works photographs, a fashion designer who presented his collection with cloths printed Tsang’s calligraphy and Hong Kong local citizens. Comments made by these people are very different with extreme contrasts. For some people, his calligraphy is the work of art, he is a genius artist and admirable man but for others, his works are just rubbish, he is a peculiar old man and such a trouble maker.
The interesting thing is the gap between Hong Kong local people who gives calm reactions and the intellectuals who stress that Tsang is such a fantastic genius.
Tsang Tso-Choi, who is now 78 years old, still keeps working on his graffiti. He’s been writing same subject matters for 40 years in Kowloon and New Territory areas. After civil servants cleaned up his works and the police caught him, he has still come back to streets for carrying on his work. However he isn’t high-tensed. He is always smiling.
Anyway no matter how people admire him or dislike him, it seems no influence on Tsang Tso-Choi and he will keep calligraph on the streets. And it already became a part of most of Hong Kong people’s daily scenery.
Text: Shinobu Koike
Photos: Shinobu Koike