10 Places to See Street Art in Malaysia

Places to See Street Art in Malaysia

In recent years, the Street Art in Malaysia has picked up quite a bit where many local and international artist have done some art pieces here and there. Not to be confused, but there are a few terms that this form or art is being called. Most call it Street Art while some call it Street Paintings or Street Murals. 

While it may be new to some, many would already know the one who started it all, Ernest Zacharevic who got the ball rolling in Penang in 2012. Today, there are mainly 10 cities around Malaysia that hosts these amazing street art paintings in various locations. Depending on where you visit in Malaysia, you may most likely encounter some of them without even trying as they are usually located in high tourist areas. 

Just for the record, we are not pointing out exactly where each of these paintings are. When you are at these places, you can explore the town areas to look for them. No point in telling exactly where they are, if not, where's the fun in exploring? So, where are these places to see street art in Malaysia? The list below is in no order too.

1. Penang Street Art

Street Art Penang
Some of the interesting Penang Street Art
Penang Island got the ball rolling back in 2012 when the street art phenomenon took off on a huge scale, especially with the help of social media, locals and foreigners were raving about it and wanting to see the art, better still to photograph and share it on their social channels. This sprouted nationwide interest which led to all kinds of trick art museums, 3D museums and so on.

Currently, the Penang street art murals stand as cultural landmarks at various locations around Georgetown, complete with plaques and constant queues of people waiting to have their photographs taken with the works, especially on the weekend.

Ernest Zacharevic Street Art Painting Penang
Ernest Zacharevic's most famous painting in Penang
Ernest Zacharevic Street Art in Penang

The most famous street art painted in Malaysia is Ernest Zacharevic who is from Lithuania and based in Penang for a number of years. He was commissioned to paint 6 street art pieces as part of the George Town Culture Festival in 2012. Ernest style depict scenes of everyday Malaysian life using local people as the models. Among them, there are two extremely popular pieces which have been featured the world over. They are Children on Bicycle and Boy on Motorcycle, where a clever combination of installation and painting allows admirers to interact with the artworks. 

His style of realistic paintings are usually combined with found objects, and then creating murals that are interactive their surroundings. In February 2014, Ernest held his first solo exhibit at the Hin Bus Depot  here in Penang and called it 'Art is Rubbish is Art'. He has since traveled around the world having exhibitions. 

Martin Ron Penang Art Piece
Martin Ron's street art piece. Image from streetartnews.com
Martin Ron from Argentina

The latest street art painting in Penang is by Martin Ron who did a masterpiece in early 2015. You can see this massive piece of work in Raja Uda at the Hin Bus Depot Art Centre. This street art is also currently the largest mural ever painted in Malaysia. The painting shows an occidental man holding his hand out to feed turtles symbolising the city's turtle conservation plan.

Martin Whatson Penang Street Art
Angel by Martin Whatson seen here in Penang. Image from streetartnews.com
Martin Whatson from Norway

Another interesting few pieces of new Penang Street Art is from Martin Whatson, a Norwegian who recently in early 2015 painted two pieces of artwork. One titled Angel and the other Riot Cop, both can be seen at one of the busy streets of George Town. 

Julia Volchkova Penang Art
Julia's beautiful piece in Penang. Image from streetartnews.com
Julia Volchkova from Russia

One of the latest works to be seen in Georgetown Penang is by Russian artist Julia Volchkova who specialises in portraits. Yulia has been traveling around the world and in April 2014, she painted a photographic piece of a local boy which can be seen at Lebuh Klang in George Town. The realistic painting is also called Photorealism. 

Penang Street Art Photos Rone
RONE's beautiful street art in Penang. Image from streetartnews.com
Rone from Australia

Another talented artist, Rone did some unique pieces of street art around the Hin Bus Depot in George Town. His work shoes images of women's faces done on a large scale which blend in with the natural environment. Very impressive work which was done towards the end of 2014.

2. Kuching Street Art

Street Art in Kuching
Orangutans in a Wheelbarrow by Ernest Zacharevic
Kuching being one of the new players in the street art scene has also engaged Ernest Zacharevic to do some street paintings here. The beauty about the artwork is that it is based on the local orang utan and the rainforest. Painted in early 2014, Ernest did some amazing work which was sponsored by a local company. Those exploring Kuching will have an opportunity to spot;

• Orang Utans in a Wheelbarrow (Ape-Scape)
• Orang Utan Sipping Kopi O Peng
• Orang Utan and Bananas

The Kuching street art paintings can be found around the Kuching Waterfront area and its surroundings so get those walking shoes on and happy spotting. For extra activities, you can also find out what to do in Kuching, Sarawak.

3. Malacca Street Art

Street Art Melaka
Melaka Street Art by the river
Melaka or Malacca is another melting pot of Malaysia, similar to Penang with rich cultural and historical heritage. Just after the street art boom in Penang, Melaka immediately jumped on board as tourism was in fact the biggest contributor to the state. 

There are so many street paintings all over the old town of Melaka, it is almost impossible to list them here. One of the most famous ones would be that huge Orang Utan mural at the Orang Utan House which has been there for ages, since around 2008/09.

Melaka Orang Utan House
The famous Orang Utan House
The main Jonker Street or Jonker Walk area has pretty much most of the paintings while along the Melaka River, there are even more to spot, especially when you take the Melaka River Cruise. Popular areas to explore are along the Melaka River, starting from the Hard Rock Cafe Melaka and also around Jonker Street and Heeren Street.

4. Ipoh Street Art

Street Art in Ipoh
Ernest's Old Uncle Drinking Coffee. Image from Old Town White Coffee
As Ipoh is one of the older cities of Malaysia, much character lies within it's old town area hence this was a perfect opportunity for Ernest Zacharevic to leave his mark here. Nostalgic moments captured the artist heart where he compiled 7 pieces of his work all over Ipoh Old Town in 2014. This campaign was also sponsored by Old Town White Coffee under the theme "The Art of Old Town".

Street Art in Ipoh Perak
Kids on a Paperplane. Image from Old town White Coffee
Images of local Malaysian lifestyle was transformed into art where you see packets of iced black coffee hanging to an old man drinking a cup of hot coffee. You can find the various Ipoh street paintings in the core of the old town area here. All you need to do is park your car and start walking around to spot these murals. 

• Kids on a Paper Plane 
• Ipoh Mining Town
• Working Trishaw
• Kopi O Peng
• Girl on a Wall
• Hummingbird
• Old Uncle Drinking Coffee

Street Art Paintings in Ipoh
One of Ernest's work showing the old mining days of Ipoh
Ernest said;
Ever since I first visited Ipoh, Old Town I’ve been touched by how cosy and intimate the town is. Its architecture, culture, food and people have continued to captivate and inspire my heart and soul. I’ve wanted to come back to Ipoh, Old Town, take my time, soak in its rich culture and heritage and perhaps leave my mark here. I was truly honoured and amazingly excited when OLDTOWN approached me to make this a reality.

5. Sibu Street Art

Street Art Paintings in Sibu
Wharf Coolie Painting in Sibu, 1st street art in Sibu. Image from ccwen08.blogspot 
Sibu in Sarawak has also jumped on the bandwagon with some local artist doing street art of daily life here. The Sibu Municipal Council or SMC formed a special committee which is made up of council staff and local artists to explore the trendy street art paintings. This is also a line up to next year's Visit Sibu Year 2016 tourism campaign. 

The 2nd Street Art in Sibu. Image from Sarikeians Facebook
Most of the street art in Sibu can be found around the Khoo Peng Loong Road , Jalan Market and around Sibu Central Market area. To date there are only 3 paintings seen and more to come over the next few months. However, there are a few others which are graffiti or random paintings. 

• Wharf coolie at work
• Local Delicacies
• Chicken and Duck on Bench

6. Kuala Lumpur Street Art

Street Art Paintings Kuala Lumpur
Some of the street art paintings in KL city. Image from TheStar
It is no wonder that Kuala Lumpur finally saw the light and produced their own street art paintings, especially with all the hype that Penang and Melaka are getting. So, there are a few places around KL where you can find street art paintings. Namely around the Chinatown area or Petaling Street. There are also some around Lebuh Ampang area as well. 

KL Graffiti along the Klang River
KL Graffiti along the Klang River
One of the other areas to see real art is at the Annex Gallery in Central Market. Around here, you may even chance upon some street art on the walls of buildings. However, if you look towards the Klang River just nearby, you will see a lot of Graffiti Art along the river walls. 

Ernest Zacharevic Kuala Lumpur Street Art
Ernest Zacharevic Kuala Lumpur Street Art Piece
Even Ernest Zacharevic was in Kuala Lumpur to have one of his street art paintings of a child in a sampan with a kampung house on stilts over water. This piece was also done in 2014. 

Previously back in 2013, Ernest also did a piece for an art gallery called ArtSquare in Bangsar, KL. To say he's made his name all over Malaysia is quite right as Ernest has left his trademark in almost every major city here. 

Kenji Chai Malaysia Street Art
Fighting Cockerel by Kenji Chai in KL
Kenji Chai from Malaysia

A local Malaysian artist Kenji Chai, did an amazing piece for Nando’s Chicken Headquarters along Jalan Sultan in KL. The massive building art totals 2100 square feet, and Kenji used 90 spray cans over a period of 4 days to complete his Fighting Cockerel concept. A landmark here is the Kota Raya building, you are bound to see this huge chicken at the side of the Nando's outlet.

7. Johor Bahru Street Art

Street Art in Johor Bahru
One of Ernest artworks in Johor
Ernest Zacharevic does it again, this time painting some interesting street art in Johor Bahru or JB. There's a twist to this painting which you will find at the end of this section. First, where else in JN can you find these street murals or paintings? A majority of them are found around the Bazaar Karat or Lorong Pasar Karat in the JB town area. The area has also been renamed Stesen Seni in 2014.

Street Art Bazaar Karat Johor Bahru
Akeem poses with his interesting MonaPod piece at Pasar Karat
One of the iconic street art paintings here is the MonaPod by Akeem. This quirky version of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is depicted as taking a selfie using a smartphone with a monopod. The artist used an existing hole on the wall to create the image of the smart phone thus giving you a 3D effect. 

When Legoland Malaysia opened in Nusajaya, Johor in 2012, the popular street artist came up with an interesting yet controversial Lego themed street art depicting a masker Lego robber waiting around the corner of a shophouse.

Ernest controversial Lego Street Art in Johor, which has since been removed. No.1 is the original, No.2 was the 1st touch up, No.3 was the second touch up. Then it was whitewashed. No.4 are stickers which are found around JB and even in Penang. 
Johor Bahru council authorities removed the paintings after much drama erupted. A Lego Policeman was added, flowers replaced the knife and eventually, it was white washed. Not long after this, tribute versions popped up in Johor and also in Kuala Lumpur while the original wall was sticker bombed with the same Lego characters.

8. Petaling Jaya Street Art

SS2 Street Art Paintings
Some of the beautiful street art paintings found in SS2, Petaling Jaya
The latest street in Petaling Jaya or PJ is found at the main SS2 area. This was actually a SS2 Wall Art Competition which was held in November 2014 where the theme was called 'Bestnya Malaysiaku'.

It was held around the main commercial area where a total of 22 walls were selected for the artist. A clever concept to beautify the business district and many talented local artist took part to win part of the RM10,700 prize money.

One of the murals at the side lanes of SS2, Petaling Jaya (Image from Yeo Bee Yin)
The art competition ended up with some amazing and beautiful street paintings which have become a permanent attraction here, for both local and tourists. Just so you know, SS2 in Petaling Jaya is a well known food area and there is also the 'All You Can Eat Durians' center around here too.

SS2 Street Art Paintings Location Map
The SS2 Street Art Location Map. (Image from Says.com)
If you notice, I have included a map for the SS2 Street Art as his area is way out of Kuala Lumpur and for any tourist wanting to come here, it is a 30-45 minute drive from KL. Once yo get here, you can simply go on foot to spot the street art murals. You need to walk around the main commercial area shops and use the side lanes. Best time to go is on a weekend or early in the mornings because after 11am, cars would be parked there blocking your street art views.

9. Shah Alam Street Art

Street Art in Shah Alam Selangor
A classic Malaysian Mini Bus at Laman Seni 7 Shah Alam. Photo by Azuan Zahdi
Shah Alam, located about an hours drive from KL has also participated in the local street art scene. The council created an area specially for artist to show their skills at a place called Laman Seni 7 in Section 2 of Shah Alam, Selangor.

Turning back lanes into walk through art galleries was a big hit with the locals where 37 pieces of art paintings are found all over here. The project which is fully funded by the Shah Alam Council initially started in 2013 and in 2015, Laman Seni 3 will be opened at Section 3 in Shah Alam.

If you are into art and street art, Laman Seni 7 is a place worth exploring to see the Malaysian artist and their creative work. You can also see more pictures of Laman Seni from Azuan Zahdi.

10. Kota Kinabalu Street Art

Sabah Street Art KK
The street art scene or graffiti in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
While this is the last major city to embrace the street art culture, Kota Kinabalu or KK has not yet seen any international or local artist doing proper street art paintings here. The only prominent street art you will see is just near the Suria KK Shopping Mall where an old abandoned building left with pillar structures and a few walls decorated with graffiti.

In general, graffiti is more acceptable here in Sabah and we feel that the Sabah Tourism Board or the Kota Kinabalu city council should invest in promoting this place using street art. After all, KK is a walking city and the best possible place to do this is around the Gaya Street or Kampung Air areas of the city. Their neighbours, Sarawak has already participated with two cities featuring street art.

Malaysia Street Art Photos
Visitors taking photos of the street art in Malaysia
There you go, 10 places to see street art in Malaysia compiled exclusively for those who love this form of art. Most of the information is sourced from various websites, blogs and portals and credit goes back to them. Thanks to Says.com, AzuanZahdi.com, Yeo Bee Yin, StreetArtNews.com, Kenji Chai, Ipoh Old Town Coffee and TheStar for the resources.

Note that this article was written by David from Malaysia Asia who frequently travels all over Malaysia for work. Not one of those online writers who sit in the office all day scraping content and re-writing them for their lifestyle portals, and most of the time, wrong information or just surface general information.

If there are any other places where street art can be found, please do share it in the comment form below and I will gladly edit it in this article. And just so you know, there are also quite a number of 3D Art Museums and Trick Art Museums mushrooming around the country. I hope you enjoyed this article on the 10 Places to See Street Art in Malaysia, and if you visit any of them, take some great photos!



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