Public artworks and murals
Unleashing creative energies in the urban realm
Jalan Raja Uda may be better known for its food, festivals, temples and streetscapes, but of late a series of fresh creative expressions of art have burst into the scene, adding another novel layer of fascination to the area.
Due to its challenging spaces and huge enticing walls, artists have been trickling to the neighbourhood to conceive exciting ways in which they can generate original and imaginative ideas to create art here. The trend has certainly helped to invigorate some parts of the town, ushering a whole new allure and vibrancy to Jalan Raja Uda.
Here are four modern artistic projects that have brought marked impact to revivify public interest in the urban area with its own elements of intrigue and attractiveness.
Giant star awakens an abandoned building
Hidden in a quiet corner of town, a deserted skeleton of a building left abandoned half-way through construction has been given a strange new lease of life.
The structure has ignited renewed interest due to a giant star of bright lights built right within its frame in a bold creative project to help invigorate the area. Indeed, the lights installation by Malaysian artist Jun Halo symbolises the birth of a “star” in Raja Uda through the rejuvenation of its socio-cultural and artistic life.
The work features a dodecahedron - a 12-sided star-shaped design - appearing to be embedded in the five-storey partially built building. The work entices the imagination in many ways. For one, it seems to depict a magnificent static explosion of brightness penetrating right through the building’s physical structure across all five floors.
The evocative nature of the work which uses an existing empty shell of a building is certainly reminiscent of the minimalist movement that started in New York in the 1960s and which the artist, who has background in architecture and modern art, has drawn inspiration from.
Jun Halo used about 500 metres of steel cables and LED strips to create the radiant giant star. He reportedly prefers to use industrial material in his artworks, so as to employ common items used by human society to creatively stir deep artistic meanings and expressions.
The project has also helped to create a new community space at Jalan Raja Uda as the public can come and leisurely wander around the area while appreciating the art installation. The artwork was launched on November 7th, 2015, with multidisciplinary performances, an art market and a party.
Symbolic and enchanting image of girl
This mural directly catches the eyes of those who enter Jalan Raja Uda from the southern end. It is painted on a huge side-wall of a corner terrace building at Jalan Raja Uda. It was created as part of the Different Strokes art exhibition held in middle of 2015.
The mural was drawn by Spanish artist Sabek who hails from Madrid. Sabek did the work in line with his trademark renditions that feature imagery usually inspired by nature and animals.
The image on the wall is apparently a transformed one. The original painting, done in 2014, was filled with robust symbolism. It featured a girl, her eyes hidden behind tears and her long hair looking like the trunk of tree with orange flowers growing on it. A serpent is seen curling around her body which is surrounded by a lake where empty trunks of dead trees jut out from the water.
The redone mural painted over the old one also depicts a girl, with finely delineated face and fingers. She is holding an apple with dry leaves floating in front of her eyes against a plain white background on the wall.
Mystical mural by a mysterious Persian
This large ornate and spherical mural is reminiscent at first glance with the Indian ‘kolam’. In actual fact it was painted by a Persian street artist from Iran who goes by the name of Nafir.
Intriguingly enough, the painter, who prefers not have his real identity known, spray-paints graffiti art with messages loaded in his images, at public places in Iran.
This particular mural features the image of a butterfly amidst elaborate patterns, with a three-dimensional effect. One is advised to stand a good distance away, at the junction of Jalan Raja Uda and Jalan Permatang Pauh, to visually take in the splendour of the design which is quite impressionistic in character. One starts to notice and appreciate the intricate details and the three-dimensional quality upon observing the mural for a while.
This mural was painted in conjunction with the Urban Xchange street art festival 2015 held in Penang.
A surrealist tribute to Nature
A giant man seated cross-legged gently extends a hand out of what seems to be a window sill, reaching out his palm amid a breezy blue backdrop. All around him, gliding on the same blue environment are beautiful turtles. It is as though the man is trying to communicate with the charming sea animals.
Watching the scene is a family, including innocent children, who gaze up at the floating turtles from a tiled floor that appears to hover on the same blue space.
Packed with meaning and symbolism, this surrealist artwork was painted on a huge wall at Jalan Raja Uda by Argentinian Martin Ron. It is quite obviously a dreamy tribute to the environment.
The man in the painting was reportedly modelled after his friend Matt Garrick who helped Ron with the project. And the turtles are said to have been inspired by the turtle conservation programme at Pentai Kerachut beach in the National Park on Penang island.
Ron has a penchant for painting large hyper-realistic portraits of ordinary people in three-dimensional form. In this work he cleverly integrates the physical texture of the wall to lend the effect of realism to his work which is themed on nature conservation.
The artwork measuring 25metres in height and 15 metres in breadth can be viewed on the wall of a shop in Taman Perusahaan Raja Uda.
Written by Himanshu Bhatt
Photographs by Adrian Cheah