Wednesday, 14 October 2015

21. Easy Pickings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Part 1)

(Mural by Malaysia's Medium Touch)

Unlike most cities in Southeast Asia, street art in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur is out in the open, easy to find, celebrated in an annual festival, and bunched together in select locations. You won't have to traipse over half the city in return for meagre reward.

But you will have to know a few things about KL to make your hunt worthwhile. Like which LRT station to get off at. In the case of today's post, it's the Pasar Seni LRT in one of KL's less salubrious parts of town - along the storm drains of the Klang River:

Both sides of the water are wall-to-wall with murals so you'll also have to know the best way to cross once you've finished viewing your first side. You could, for example, swim across the cascading waters:

Or bow your head and wade through the grungy culverts:

Call us cowardly, but we recommend taking the footpath back up to street level, crossing the regular bridge and taking the other footpath back down to storm-drain level.

Whichever way you choose, your reward will be a few hundred yards of really big murals. How big? Well consider that Heather is about 5'7:

That would make the average mural about 15 ft. high x 30 ft. wide. But these are no average murals, either in size or quality. Their creators have come from around the world, and the works have a distinct cartoon-like appearance to them. Have a glance at this one that came to life via the GIANTS SHALL RISE competition between Katun and Clogtwo:

Clogtwo, whose work appears on the right, is a Singapore-based "visual anarchist" who paints narratives that explore dark humour and social behaviour in everyday life. Katun, from Kuala Lumpur, started by sketching cartoon characters and now focuses on graffiti.

Some of our other favourites were by Ultra Boys, who hail from Belgium, France and Spain:

"Urban Guerilla" by Kenji (Chai), from Sabah, Malaysia, who was bred on comics, cartoon and storybooks and whose iconic dog, Chaigo, has made appearances in a number of countries:

Brindisi-born, now Milan-resident, Mr. Wany, a hip-hop afficionado, break-dancer and graffiti artist. He is art-school trained and has, over the years, worked his way through the worlds of graphic, canvas and urban arts, and more recently has found himself drawn to the world of tattoo:

A duo by Slacsatu, and some of his fellow members from Singapore's Zincnite Crew:

 "The Secret Hideout", which may be the title of the mural or the name of the crew that painted it:

This one called "We Got the Jazz":

And various and sundry paintings by artists whose indecipherable or absent signatures, or low internet profiles have rendered them, regrettably, invisible or unknown (to us):


At this point, you've still just scratched the surface of the hundreds of murals by the storm drains at the Klang. But this isn't a race. You may be feeling the heat from Malaysia's year-round 100+ temperature, dehydrated (unless you've remembered to bring a water bottle), claustrophobic from spending hours under the concrete canopy of the LRT line, or maybe just somewhat paranoid from having to tiptoe around the less-fortunate ones sleeping in the shadows - don't bother them and they won't bother you.

So we respectfully suggest that this would be a good time to call it a day and take the short path up to the refreshing view of KL's Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) and the city skyline:

We'll pick up where we left off, in our next post.