In the 21st century, street art or graffiti or city murals are no longer considered ‘arts for homeless’, but associated much with cultural and social – and even suburb – development.
The social recognition has now made mural a form of arts with a status. From Berlin to Rio de Janeiro; from Bronx, New York to the fame London’s Banksy, murals are taking its rightful place in other part of the world – slowly but surely.
Murals in Malaysia are broad in themes and subjects. Decorating (forgotten sides of) a town – murals in Malaysia now take centre stage, presented by talented local artists – or talents from afar.
Today, there are many places in Malaysia embrace murals or street art – Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and other cities, but let’s update some selected venues for you to grab your camera and – smile!!
This year, Penang street art took another accolade after awarded as the 7th Most Instagrammed City for Street Art in the world. Well certainly, Penang streets outshine the most, if you are looking for something different. By combining a life-size images, plus the original piece or 3D objects, murals in Penang are ‘interactive and real’.
Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic revitalised Georgetown with his unique take on street art featuring children. Pieces like Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur and Boy on Bike are so cool that you can’t help but want to pose with them, commented https://thefreedomtravellers.com.
So just stroll down the lanes, and take your own sweet time to admire some of the finest ‘free souvenirs’ from Penang. Mind that Georgetown is not only place to find the murals, but also Balik Pulau is also picking up the trend. In fact, Russian artist Julia Volchkova painted her Old Fisherman and Silat (2015) murals there.
Adding up to the scene is the Uncle Roti mural, in honour of local bread seller L. Muniandy. The artist is Andhar A Samah, who was commissioned by the National Art Gallery and the Culture and Arts Department in conjunction with Balik Pulau Festival 2019.
Even though the publicity of art murals in Malaysia is dominated by Penang, Malacca also stepped up their game in the street art scene. The state known for its rich history and culture also jumped on the bandwagon with their River Art Project in 2012 where 9 groups of graffiti artists collaborated to produce artworks on buildings along Bandar Hilir river, making art to beautify the city with more Malaysian elements. Aside from the project, many guesthouses and hotels along the river also feature street art murals to add a touch of personality to their walls. An example of this is the “Welcome to Malacca” mural that decorates the side of the 906 Riverside Hotel.
Local artist Charles Cham has a number of notable murals that grace the more famous buildings in Malacca Old Town such as his mural on the wall of “The Orangutan House” and the more political “Freedom of Speech” mural. Just like the street art in Penang, there are many murals in the streets of Malacca that incorporate the element of interaction with the visitors.
In an alley near Jalan Hang Kasturi, there is an interactive murals lane where the art includes perspective-altering images which allows visitors to pose creatively to create the impression as if the visitors are also a part of the art created. More recently, the cosmetics brand Kiehl’s commissioned for the walls of its store in Jonker Street to be filled with street art that portrays vibrant colours as a celebration of Malaysia’s colourful heritage.
https://pointandshootwanderlust.com/photo-essay-melakas-street-art/ https://www.ipacktravel.com/single-post/Malacca-Street-Arts http://projekarm.blogspot.com/
The long lines of olden Chines brick shop houses in Ipoh, offer much opportunities for street artists to pen their colours. Like a big canvas, the theme is very much associated to the once a mining town.
So in 2014, Ipoh introduced the Mural Art trail in collaboration with the City Council of Ipoh, – again – Ernest Zacharevic and the Ipoh coffee brand Old Town White Coffee. To make it better, they came up with an Ipoh Mural Art Trail map depicts nine street art mural locations together with GPS coordinates.
As an icing on the cake, another local talent Eric Lai, added up his pieces depicting rich cultural heritage of Malaysia in a joyful and playful way. Now you know why Lonely Planet picked up Ipoh as their favourite destination before!
The small town in Johor – Muar – keep the best secret of Malaysian street art for years now. Elegantly adorning the walls of the shop houses, many artists contributed to the decoration of the town which focus on the ‘Malaysian faces and activities’.
For examples, Julia Volchkova’s ‘Loving Sisters’ embraces the love theme of life, and touches our inner feeling with calmness and harmony. Hailed as the biggest mural in Malaysia, it stands out proudly at 11.8 meters x 10 meters in size.
My all-time favourite artist, Volchkova always able to present an ultra realistic piece of artwork, which connect to local elements and sentiments. Caratoes, a Belgium-born artist, also contributed with his works of many themes that made Muar a colourful town to visit.
Not to be left out, the cultural city of Kota Bharu, Kelantan in East Coast, instils a fresh breath onto street art in Malaysia. With interesting themes and vibrant colours, Kota Bharu offers a new outlook for tourists to be part of the town’s heritage.
Try walk past the amusing Riverside area, or the Jalan Dato’ Pati, Kota Bharu, which houses Palestine Street Alley art and around 20 artworks – with different local and international images. These variety of themes and styles – either pop art or realism – simply catch your eyes and thought-provoking. You’ll be amazed that even the road is turned into painted carpets!
Local artists Fazirul Ezran and many more contributed to the scene.