Street Art Penang Style
Format: Laminated Softcover
Size: 26 x 23.1 x 2.3 cm, 301 pp
In January 2011, Ernest Zacharevic, a young Lithuanian artist, arrived in George Town and changed the way people see Penang. His first mural, a portrait of a friend, was painted out within days, yet today any damage to his world-famous ‘Mirrors’ series is reported in the press and quickly removed. Truly, Zacharevic has changed not only the way visitors see Penang, it has changed the way Penangites view their hometown.
Mike Gibby, the author of this stunning new book was drawn in: ‘like many visitors to Penang, I began to visit, photograph and ‘collect’ the murals and sculptures. As I did so, my real introduction to both George Town and ‘greater’ Penang began. Quiet back lanes were explored in the hunt for new artworks; turning each corner brought a sense of discovery. A journey around George Town became a glorious treasure hunt.’
In Street Art Penang Style the evolution of George Town’s unique murals is explored and described, from the earliest ‘pre-Zacharevic’ paintings to the diverse and colourful street scene of today, along with information on the various artists involved. Street murals are no longer merely the personal expression and creation of an individual, they embrace diverse forms that support an ecosystem of businesses, small and large. They have transcended their original context. They help define the island’s identity.
But Mike Gibby also challenges us to consider ‘what constitutes street art?’ Penang’s street art is indeed not limited to these modern, transitory murals, many of which are already fading or have crumbled away. There are many vibrant sculptures and commemorative works that enliven the environment and tell of the changing aspirations of Penang’s population. These too have their place and enliven our street scene.
Together, they all tell a richly illustrated social history of Penang in this impressive 300-page book – truly a must-have record of Street Art … Penang Style.
Mike Gibby is a retired educator, living in Penang. He is the author of two well-received books about Malaysia, ‘Islands of Malaysia’ (1994) and ‘Crowned with the Stars’ (2005).