Local artist receives threats after reinstalling ‘indecent’ billboards outside mall

Elphonso Lam’s billboards, which were taken down on Oct. 12 after complains from a district councillor, were put up again on Oct. 26, 2020. Photo via Apple Daily and Elphonso Lam
Elphonso Lam’s billboards, which were taken down on Oct. 12 after complains from a district councillor, were put up again on Oct. 26, 2020. Photo via Apple Daily and Elphonso Lam

A local artist has received threatening messages after his billboard, earlier removed after complaints that they are “indecent,” were reinstalled outside a Sham Shui Po mall.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Elphonso Lam shared screenshots of messages he was sent that morning warning him to “be careful” and that “Hong Kong is not a safe place.”

“My Hong Kong friend is very friendly and will find you for yum cha (afternoon tea),” one of the texts, sent by a Facebook user with the surname Chan, read.

Lam told Apple Daily that he fears for his and his family’s safety, but did not file a police report as he believed that authorities would not act on the incident. He said the person has “too much free time” and suggested he or she “do more meaningful things such as volunteering” instead.

On Oct. 12, his billboards outside Dragon Center—which depict scantily clothed women—were taken down after a district councillor who serves the area, Nicole Lau, called them obscene and petitioned for their removal.

That night, Lam wrote on Facebook that they were taken down because a typhoon 8 was due to hit, and that he was preparing “a surprise.”

True to his word, a surprise did come—in the form of cartoonist Gum Siu-man’s drawings, which graced the exterior of the mall on Oct. 25 and intentionally parodied Lam’s work by starring characters in similar poses.

Lam told HK01 that he decided to collaborate with Gum because he was one of Hong Kong’s pioneers in parody artwork and that it would be “very interesting” to put up Gum’s work before bringing back his own.

Yesterday, Gum’s billboards were joined by Lam’s, attracting crowds of people who came to take pictures with the controversial, yet now iconic, cartoons.

In a Facebook post, Lam expressed that it was “his honor as an artist being able to bring surprises and laughter to people.”

Speaking with HK01, he said that he is collaborating with other artists for an exhibition at the mall, which will feature more illustrations in his signature, scandalous style.

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