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Kaws brings gigantic inflatable Companion character to Hong Kong


A 37-metre-long inflatable version of American street artist Kaws’ signature character Companion is to float in the middle of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour later this month.

SEE ALSO: ‘KAWS:HOLIDAY’ lands in Taipei

Its dispatch into city waters will follow the floating six years ago of a large yellow duck, which proved a hit with visitors and locals.

The giant figure, which will be longer than the nearby Star ferries, is to be set up in a reclining position off the Central Harbourfront to kick off the city’s art season.

Its creator is influential street artist and designer Brian Donnelly, 45, commonly known as Kaws. His series of Companion figures are characterised by two crosses on the face.

For 10 days from March 22, the inflatable will relax on the water, courtesy of a project costing more than HK$10 million (US$1.27 million), according to organiser AllRightsReserved.

The agency was also behind the duck set sail in 2013 and a mob of 1,600 papier mâché pandas brought to Hong Kong by French artist Paulo Grangeon in 2014.

Lam Shu-kam, founder of AllRightsReserved, said Companion would need to contend with wavy waters.

“This project is far more challenging than the duck … The harbour is busy and rough, and so we need to make sure Companion is safe and won’t drift away with the waves,” he said.

“The reclining art piece will mean a lot to Hong Kong as a world art hub,” Lam added.

The city is part of an Asia tour for Companion called Kaws: Holiday, which started in Seoul last summer. In Taipei the character sat in front of the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in January.

The Hong Kong version was being produced at a dockyard in Tsing Yi, Lam said, and would be inflated and attached to a 40-tonne metal base before being towed to the harbour by two boats.

Hong Kong Tourism Board executive director Anthony Lau Chun-hon said the installation had been timed to coincide with the city’s annual arts month, and he expected the gigantic sculpture to help gain exposure for Hong Kong.

SEE ALSO : Art Basel Hong Kong

The three-day Art Basel fair is due to begin on March 29, while the five-day Art Central will be back on March 27 at the Central Harbourfront.