Musings about early retirement with no fixed address

Penang Street Art

It’s everywhere! The Penang street art scene is thriving and the creative and playful atmosphere can be felt throughout George Town. It wasn’t that long ago that the colonial architecture was the main draw to this island. While a lot of the art feels old, most of the iconic pieces debuted in 2012. Since then, Penang street art has exploded in both quantity and popularity. And while I am really enjoying the architecture, I can safely say that the street art is the number one reason to visit.

The Interactive Pieces

Kids on a bike – vying for the title of most famous
Help me help you

Many of the art installations are interactive and tourists are encouraged to pose with the paintings and are given platforms upon which to do so. You may have seen some of these on Instagram, and maybe even the Bonus Nachos Instagram page. The most popular pieces have people waiting in line for pictures during most hours of the day so if you haven’t seen them yet, you will soon. But given the sheer volume of street art, there are still plenty of spots available to avoid the crowds.

May I try some of your soup please?
You too can ride with the boy on the motorcycle
Swing set fun
Stretch!
You’re not getting my steamed buns!

The Gigantic Pieces

While the popular interactive pieces are fun, I felt some of the most impressive pieces of street art were the ones that cover the sides of buildings. Many are enormous and commanding in their space. Plus the best part is that you can’t accidentally miss them as you walk by.

Four stories tall – a trishaw driver taking a rest
It rains most days, but no need for this guy yet
I can practically hear it
Hard to achieve 30 feet of minimalism, but the artist did a good job here
Being able to squat like this old woman is a life goal
Enormous dapper rooster at the beginning of Chicken Alley

The Hin Bus Depot Pieces

The Hin Bus Depot is a decommissioned bus station that’s been turned into an artist hangout. I’m not sure if it’s permanent, but when we visited there was a gallery that had all manner of original paintings and art for sale at very reasonable prices. There’s a large courtyard with street art-style paintings. Around the outside of the courtyard are a couple of stores and coffee shops as well as a good-sized open air pavilion providing a place to escape the sun or rain. There’s even a market every Sunday with local arts, crafts, and tasty food.

I sincerely hope no models were hurt in the painting of this piece
The other side of the same wall. Nice hats!
Roar!
A bit of a weird one, but still well done I thought

The Aged Pieces

Even after 3 weeks of wandering around, I can still duck into a tourist shop and find postcards of street art that I haven’t seen. After covering so many blocks, I’m starting to suspect that it’s not my searching ability that’s the issue. I’m pretty sure some of them simply don’t exist anymore. Many of the ones I found are only fragments of the original art. While that’s too bad, it also highlights the fact that street art is a living, changing thing. It’s exposed to the weather. It’s painted on old walls that crumble. Sometimes it’s simply replaced with new expressions.

A young boy with what’s left of a pet dinosaur
This tabby is a brilliant orange color on the postcards
Kids playing basketball with no ball
A cat being kicked by what’s left of Bruce Lee

What I experienced in George Town today will be different tomorrow. Some of the street art in this post will not be there for your visit. But since Penang is fully embracing their street art scene, it will continue to thrive and even improve. New and more diverse art is being continually added, whether that’s in unique art museums or on the side of buildings. In fact, I have barely touched on all of the cool art that I’ve found. I have another post coming tomorrow showcasing even more Penang street art!

4 Comments

  1. Peter

    Spectacular. The amount of work(?) that the artist utilized to place these creations onto his chosen canvas is difficult to imagine. Please continue to provide more of these wonders on your blog.

    • Eric

      My internet friend Travis has painted a couple of medium-sized murals that took him 24 hours and 30 hours. The large ones in this post must’ve taken a long time!

  2. Dianne

    Amazing! I would be in street art heaven there!

    • Eric

      Katie already wants to buy a condo. lol

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