British artist draws Hong Kong crowds with his ‘graffiti spaghetti’

A Hong Kong transport hub was taken over Sunday by googly eyed aliens, extraterrestrial jellyfish and a cast of eccentric characters — all part of a live performance by British artist Sam Cox, better known as Mr Doodle. 

The 29-year-old calls his style “graffiti spaghetti” — a series of interlocking patterns, whimsical characters and surreal narratives that often chronicle the adventures of Mr Doodle in “Doodle Land”. 

His show in Hong Kong attracted hundreds of fans and curious onlookers, his canvas a two-metre-wide silver spaceship for him “to fly back home” installed at an MTR station in Central district.

“I really enjoy the live performances in front of people, because I love to be able to hear people get inside the process,” Cox told AFP in an interview Thursday. 

“I don’t always know where it is going, and everyone is just there together and enjoying the process.”

Cox — who cites the late American pop artist Keith Haring as an influence — gamely adopts his alter ego, dressing in a doodled suit during his public events, which on Sunday included a crowd of children. 

“(My daughters)… were so excited when they knew Mr Doodle was coming,” Mimi Tjen told AFP, as her husband alternated between hoisting their nine- and 11-year-old daughters on his shoulders to get a better view. 

As many children’s first drawings are often doodles, “they understand that language,” said Cox.

At Sunday’s event, 10 children joined him to scrawl their own creations on his spaceship — some imitating the Mr Doodle style, while others opted for mountains and stars.

‘Relaxation and joy’

“I like to create artwork that doesn’t take itself too seriously… a lot of people expect art and artists to act a certain way,” Cox told AFP.

“I try to listen to myself and think about what’s the most ultimate version of myself I can be.”

His pieces carry price tags ranging from $10,000 to $500,000, according to Pearl Lam, Cox’s global representation.

Lam said she typically signs more traditional creators who tend to prefer their exhibition spaces austere. 

But for “Mr Doodle in Space” — a solo exhibition launched Thursday — her staff wallpapered her gallery in Cox’s signature imagery, enveloping his canvases with an eye-popping pandemonium of scribbles.

Lam said Cox’s social media following and full embodiment of the character is bringing a younger generation to art.

“In this modern commercial world, you need some relaxation and joy… that’s what Mr Doodle gives.”


© Agence France-Presse