Street art in Malaysia was frowned upon as vandalism for years but now, it is finally starting to be accepted as art. Authorities have even started to create space for artistic expression on walls like for example in the Laman Seni 7 in Kuala Lumpur. International Artists like Ernest Zacharevic from Lithuania and local artists like Eric Lai, a teacher from Ipoh, have helped to make the street art scene in Malaysia popular around the world. It’s even worth visiting some places just because of the great street art.
On our recent travels around Malaysia we’ve been to three major cities featuring street art: Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh.
Penang is without doubt the most famous place for street art in Malaysia. A lot of people who are interested in street art have probably seen at least one piece from Ernest Zacharevic. In 2012, as an effort to bring more awareness to the rich history of the old town of Georgetown in Penang, the municipal council of Penang hired him with the task of creating some street art. Of course Zacharevic’s art inspired other artists and so you can’t walk through the streets of Georgetown without discovering a piece of beautiful street art at least every 5-10 minutes.
The plan of the municipal council worked very well, as many tourists visit Penang today partly to see the fantastic street art. We were not the only ones walking around with our cameras out!
One collective worth mentioning is the Artists For Stray Animals. Their aim is to create more attention over the issue of helping find homes for stray animals. If you’re interested in reading more about them, you can do so here.
Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it is known by many, is a huge city. It can be a bit more difficult to find street art there, as it is not so concentrated as in Penang. But believe me, there is some fantastic street art in KL!
One of my favourites is actually another piece from Zacharevic. Unfortunately most of the time there are cars parked in front of it, so it’s difficult to get a proper shot of the whole work.
One place I really want to mention is the Laman Seni 7 in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. It might involve a bit more effort to get there but it’s totally worth the time. The Shah Alam City Council organised this back alley to be a huge canvas for artists. Rarely have I seen so much talent in one place. If you want to visit the Laman Seni 7 you should take the KTM Komuter train south towards Klang and disembark at Padang Jawa. From there you can take a short Taxi/Uber/Grab ride to the Laman Seni 7.
Since Zacharevic extended his territory to Ipoh, the town gets more and more attention in the street art scene. Ipoh is the capital of Perak state, located between Penang and Kuala Lumpur. Especially in the old town you can find some really fine street art. The best thing about it? After you hunted for all the street art you can chill out in one of the many hip cafes and drink some famous Ipoh white coffee.
Also worth a visit is the Mural Arts Lane just outside of the old town of Ipoh. It’s a whole street full of amazing street art. Many of the paintings are from Eric Lai, a teacher from Ipoh, who initiated this project after he was inspired by Ernest Zacharevic.
As you can see, there is a lot of amazing street art in Malaysia. And if this is not yet enough for you to decide to visit this wonderful country then let me give you a small tip: Malaysia has probably the best street food scene in the whole world!
Thank you Sarah and Tom from Trip Gourmets for sharing the beautiful street art of Malaysia!