STORY OF THE KOI
Szabotage’s infamous tag was born out of a sense of empowerment. The artist took a discouraging experience and used it to level up his artistic game.
Back in 2013, Szabotage found the perfect wall in Sai Ying Pun to paint. The owner of the wall requested that the artist paint a koi but couldn’t agree on a design, telling Szabotage that he “couldn’t paint fish”. This artist took this feedback and invested the time to perfect the koi, painting them across walls in Hong Kong, and used this experience as fuel to level up his artistic game.
Szabotage has taken the koi as his emblem, a symbol he has come to identify with himself. “The koi jumping out of water is jumping out of its comfort zone, from water to air. It is enjoyment, it’s invigorating. There’s a sense of jubilation and freedom in its movement.”.
The koi has important symbolic meaning in traditional Chinese culture. The fish has a powerful and energetic life force, demonstrated by its ability to swim against currents and even travel upstream. Strong connotations Szabotage can relate to.
Characteristics associated with the koi, such as courage and perseverance are reflected in his art, with its boldness, strong symbolism and powerful colour palette.
Coming full-circle, the Koi is now sought after, with an entire wall created in dedication to ‘the fish’ on Eastern Street in Sai Ying Pun.