Location: Penang, Malaysia. December 2012.
I love checking out the street art of the different cities that I visit. Penang was a wonderful (and unexpected) example of this: it’s historic, colourful streets have been further enriched by wonderful murals by Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic. His paintings mostly feature local kids. They are playful and inventive, and use different props, like this bicycle, or a child on a stool. Tourists like me are delighted to find such interesting things to look at around each corner, and set up humorous ways of interacting with the pieces. For a while, I was waiting for this group of friends to move out of the way of the bicycle with painted children, so that I could get a clear picture. Then I realised, the image would be so much better with someone in it, showing the contrast between the painted and real people. In this case, the kids seem more alive than the tourist (but maybe I caught her at a bad moment)!
There are walking tour maps showing the locations of Zacharevic and other artists’ work – mostly, it appears to have been widely accepted by the local authorities. Less celebrated, was another mural which Zacharevic produced, showing a Lego lady carrying a Chanel handbagged about to get mugged by a Lego man wearing a balaclava. The wall was whitewashed shortly after the mural appeared. In a different way, the now-erased mural is playing on contrasts, this time between the domestic, safe, Lego and the threat of physical violence.
You can see more of this challenge here.