Penang Street Art & Mural (With Map)

Penang street art are all over George Town! Hunting for these Penang murals is a common item on many travelers’ list of things to do in Penang!

We’ll cover the original Ernest Zacharevic paintings as well as others outside of George Town in this post!

And if you don’t have much time in Penang, there are places with a higher concentration of lovely street art paintings that you can visit!

Table Of Contents:

Penang Street Art History

So when did Penang street art become so famous?

With the condensed history below, you’ll see that the local council encouraged the spread of murals through Penang after the initial success of Ernest Zacharevic!

2008

Penang received its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

2009

Penang government held an international competition “Marking George Town” to rebrand the heritage area of George Town. Won by SCULPTUREATWORK for their Welden Iron Wall Caricatures.

2012

The art project by the local council, “Mirrors George Town” gave Ernest Zacharevic worldwide recognition for his 6 incredible street art murals during the 2012 George Town Festival in Penang.

2013

Another project, “101 Lost Kittens” by ASA (Artists for Stray Animals) added 12 new paintings to George Town to raise awareness for stray animals.

2014

Hin Bus Depot Art Center and Urban Nation co-organized Urban Xchange: Crossing Over – an international street art festival! A notable artist who partook in the project was Yulia Volchkova!

2018

Art Lane Penang by China House was opened to the public!

There are 3 notable artists whose works you can see in Penang:

  1. Ernest Zacharevic – A Lithuanian-born artist that employs fine art techniques into his street art paintings. He has many paintings in Penang and Ipoh.
  2. Yulia Volchkova – A Russian artist who did a number of large wall murals in Penang. And even in Kuala Lumpur!
  3. Louis Gan – Being deaf-mute did not discourage this self-taught local artist! With a preference for watercolor techniques, he has a few paintings in Penang.

Penang Street Art Map

But where exactly are these Penang street art?

Use the map below to find the all the paintings listed in this post!

Welden Iron Wall Caricatures

These didn’t quite catch the attention of the world like street paintings did.

But George Town has 52 intricate iron structures as art pieces by Malaysian sculpture studio, SCULPTUREATWORK.

Kopi O' Kau! Ironworks Sculpture In Penang
Kopi O’ Kau! Ironworks Sculpture In Penang – photo credits to ken_phang (Instagram)

The sculptures are caricatures of a common theme “voices from the people”. This idea won the international competition, Marking George Town in 2009.

We’ve listed 15 of the 52 iron structures here:

  1. Jimmy Choo
  2. Win Win Situation
  3. Narrowest Five Foot Away
  4. Bullock Cart Wheel
  5. Cheating Husband
  6. Tok Tok Mee
  7. Ting Ting Thong
  8. Labourer To Trader
  9. Kopi ‘O’
  10. Three Generations
  11. No Plastic Bag
  12. Untrained Parakeet
  13. Cow & Fish
  14. Cannon Hole
  15. Kandar
Iron Sculpture 'Cannon Hole' By Tang Mun Kian At Lebuh Cannon, George Town In Penang
Iron Sculpture ‘Cannon Hole’ By Tang Mun Kian At Lebuh Cannon, George Town In Penang – photo credits to filandfairy (Instagram)

13 Most Captivating Penang Murals

Street Art By Ernest Zacharevic

Can’t talk about Penang street art without first covering the ones by Ernest Zacharevic! These are what started the trend of street art murals in Malaysia!

After the success of his paintings in Penang, Ipoh council requested Ernest Zacharevic to come paint Ipoh street art 2 years later, in 2014!

1. Kung Fu Girl (The Little Girl In Blue)

A giant mural of a young girl dressed in blue on the side of a building beside Penang Ta Kam Hong on Muntri Street in George Town.

She appears to be lifting herself up with her hands on the tops of two windows for support.

Kung Fu Girl By Ernest Zacharevic
Kung Fu Girl By Ernest Zacharevic – photo credits to butterfliesxqueen (Instagram)

2. Penang Street Art Bicycle – Kids On Bicycle

No doubt one of his most popular murals, Kids On Bicycle utilizes a real bicycle fixed against the wall with a mural of 2 kids riding it with glee.

There’s usually a queue of Instagrammers in front of this mural!

One Of The Place To Visit In Penang - Penang Street Mural Of Kids On A Bicycle
Penang Street Mural Of Kids On A Bicycle – photo credits to saifulridzaimi (Instagram)

3. Boy On Chair

Unfortunately, this mural of a little boy reaching up while standing on a chair is now next to an unsightly construction site after the owner was told to demolish an illegal structure there.

The mural itself is still in good shape and you can have a look at it some 200m away from Kids On A Bicycle.

Boy On Chair - Penang Street Art By Ernest Zacharevic
Boy On Chair – Penang Street Art By Ernest Zacharevic – photo credits to sergafan (Instagram)

4. Boy On Motorbike

Despite showing some signs of fade, people still queue up at Lebuh Ah Quee to have a photo with this mural!

It is of a boy in an oversized helmet riding on a real vintage motorbike!

Boy On Motorbike - A Penang Street Art Painting By Ernest Zacharevic
Boy On Motorbike – A Penang Street Art Painting By Ernest Zacharevic – photo credits to mariiaupraviteleva (Instagram)

Parts of the motorbike have been replaced after years of weather damage.

Note: Go early in the morning to avoid the long queues!

5. Little Boy With Pet Dinosaur

It looks like this mural is chasing the previous mural if you stand across from them!

This cheeky painting on an exposed brick wall has a little boy holding back his “pet dinosaur” on a leash.

Little Boy With Pet Dinosaur - A Penang Street Art Painting By Ernest Zacharevic
Little Boy With Pet Dinosaur By Ernest Zacharevic – photo credits to artversehaven (Instagram)

The dinosaur has the look of being hand-drawn by a young child adding to the charm of the painting!

6. Trishaw Man

Arguably the largest of all Ernest’s paintings, the Trishaw Man spans the entire wall of a building opposite the car park of a hawker center (Red Garden Food).

It shows an elderly man sitting in the cab of his trishaw, perhaps waiting for customers.

Tip: If taking the Penang CAT bus, get off Bus Stop 7

7. Fisherman’s Children / Folklore By The Sea Mural

Spot this long mural at the side of a house at Chew Jetty, one of the clan jetties of Penang!

Children In A Boat (as it is otherwise known as) depicts 2 kids in a boat with a cat.

Mural Of A Local Scene At Chew Jetty Penang (姓周桥)
Mural Of A Local Scene At Chew Jetty Penang (姓周桥) – photo credits to allianzjung (Instagram)

Depending on the level of the tide, the boat may be out of the water or floating on the water!

Other Street Art

These beautiful paintings are worth a gander too!

8. Siblings On A Swing

This mural makes use of a physical swing with 2 seats.

Siblings On A Swing By Louis Gan - Penang Street Art That Is A Popular Selfie Spot
Siblings On A Swing By Louis Gan – Penang Street Art That Is A Popular Selfie Spot – photo credits to butterfliesxqueen (Instagram)

One of them is left as it is, while the other has a painting of a smiling boy and girl standing on the seat!

Artist: Louis Gan

9. Boy Playing Basketball

To be fair, it’s 2 children playing basket ball where the hoop and ball are real.

Boy Playing Basketball By Louis Gan - Penang Street Art
Boy Playing Basketball By Louis Gan – photo credits to butterfliesxqueen (Instagram)

Be creative with where you stand, and then it’ll look like you’re playing the game with them too!

Artist: Louis Gan

10. Old Indian Woman

Underneath the roots of a tree in a quiet back lane is a larger than life-size painting of an old Indian woman with her hands clasped together in a plea or prayer.

Artist: Yulia Volchkova

Old Indian Woman - Penang Street Art By Yulia Volchkova
Old Indian Woman By Yulia Volchkova – photo credits to origemmie (Instagram)

11. The Indian Boatman

This is Yulia’s second painting in George Town. The painting at Stewart Lane features an old Indian man standing on a boat with an oar in his hands.

Artist: Yulia Volchkova

The Indian Boatman By Yulia Volchkova - Penang Street Art
The Indian Boatman By Yulia Volchkova – photo credits to butterfliesxqueen (Instagram)

12. Child Mural At Prangin Canal

Hidden in another quiet alleyway at Prangin Canal, this mural of a boy biting his shirt collar is Yulia’s first painting in Penang!

Artist: Yulia Volchkova

Child Mural At Prangin Canal By Yulia Volchkova
Child Mural At Prangin Canal By Yulia Volchkova – photo credits to klyeoh_foodie (Instagram)

13. The Girl With Tree Hair

The Girl With Tree Hair is a striking minimalistic mural of a girl with tree branches for hair on a white building on Chulia Street.

Birds can be seen flying away from the branches.

Artist: Vexta


Read more: Love Lane Penang: What To Love About This Popular Street In George Town


101 Lost Kittens

Like cats? There are 12 murals just of cats around Penang!

These were painted by Thai artist, Nathhapon Muangkliang and 2 Malaysian artists, Tang Yeok Khang and Louise Low!

These murals have a noble purpose to create awareness for stray animals!

1. Skippy Comes To Penang

This is a huge portrait after Skippy, an orange cat with a deformed leg who eventually found a home in Langkawi.

Skippy Comes To Penang Under 101 Kittens Penang Street Art Project
Skippy Comes To Penang Under 101 Kittens Penang Street Art Project – photo credits to jojifujii (Instagram)

She sadly passed in January 2019.

Note: This mural has faded quite a lot.

2. Love Me Like Your Fortune Cat

Japanese lucky cats (maneki-neko) frame a hopeful grey tabby cat which suggests that the message behind the painting is that stray cats need all the luck they can get to find a home.

Love Me Like Your Fortune Cat - One Of The 101 Kittens Penang Street Art Project
Love Me Like Your Fortune Cat – photo credits to the_concrete_canvas (Instagram)

3. Please Care And Bath Me

Please Care And Bath Me has 2 wet cats staring out of a small tub.

4. Cats And Humans Happily Living Together

Instead of humans, cats are painted as participants in a typical Taoist religious procession.

Cats And Humans Happily Living Together, One Of The Works Under 101 Kittens Penang Street Art Project
Cats And Humans Happily Living Together – photo credits to butterfliesxqueen (Instagram)

5. Cats Walking For Animal Awareness

You’ll find these identical cats along the wall of the fire station at Beach Street!

Cats Walking For Animal Awareness - One Of The Murals For The 101 Kittens Penang Street Art Project
Cats Walking For Animal Awareness – photo credits to eldriver99 (Instagram)

6. Real Bruce Lee Would Never Do This

Behind Ernest Zacharevic’s Boy On A Motorbike, is a mural of Bruce Lee with a cat.

A Recent Photo Of Real Bruce Lee Would Never Do This, One Of The Works Under 101 Kittens Penang Street Art Project
A Recent Photo Of Real Bruce Lee Would Never Do This – photo credits to butterfliesxqueen (Instagram)

The message is commonly misunderstood but it is “Don’t mistreat stray cats”!

7. I Can Help Catch Rats

A reminder of the age-old benefit of having a cat around!

I Can Help Catch Rats - One Of The 101 Kittens Penang Street Art Project
I Can Help Catch Rats – photo credits to the_concrete_canvas (Instagram)

8. Even Handicapped Still Love Me

Not a painting but it is a sculpture of a crippled cat asking for love despite outer appearances.

9. Shade Me If You Love Me

“Hold” an umbrella over 8 painted cats. The mural encourages people to adopt cats and provide them with shelter!

Shade Me If You Love Me - One Of The 101 Kittens Penang Street Art Project
Shade Me If You Love Me – photo credits to boo_licious (Instagram)

10. Take Time To Sit With Your Pet

A home is not a home without love as this partial wire sculpture shows with a cat walking on a sofa that isn’t quite there!


Read more: 13 Best Things To Do In Georgetown Penang


11. No Animal Discrimination Please

In Malaysia, cats are often preferred over dogs. This mural asks for equal treatment to both cats and dogs!

No Animal Discrimination Please, One Of The Works Under 101 Kittens Penang Street Art Project
No Animal Discrimination Please – photo credits to butterfliesxqueen (Instagram)

12. Fine 500 For Littering, Sterilize Instead

Littering here means cats multiplying uncontrollably. The solution is to sterilize your pets!


Read more: 11 Best Night Market In Penang – Monday To Sunday (Especially #5)


Hin Bus Depot Art Centre

In his search for a suitable canvas for his solo exhibition in 2014, Ernest Zacharevic ended up choosing the rundown Hin Bus Depot!

Hin Bus Depot Art Center
Hin Bus Depot Art Center – photo credits to the.z.o (Instagram)

Even after his exhibition (Art Is Rubbish Is Art), the community spirit at Hin Bus Depot still continues as it is now a gallery for independent artists!

Urban Nation and Hin Bus Depot Art Centre occasionally host street art projects and festivals like the notable Urban Xchange: Crossing Over in 2014 and The Star in 2015.

Sunday Crafts Market At Hin Bus Depot Art Centre, Penang
Sunday Crafts Market At Hin Bus Depot Art Centre, Penang – photo credits to elenatan1786 (Instagram)

Even if they’re not hosting anything, the place is usually busy on a weekend with arts and craft stalls selling handmade goods!

Note: Sunday market: Open from 11am to 5pm
Mural Of A Rainbow And Boy With A Traffic Cone On His Head At Hin Bus Depot Art Centre, Penang
Mural Of A Rainbow And Boy With A Traffic Cone On His Head At Hin Bus Depot Art Centre, Penang – photo credits to vcjavier (Instagram)

You can also head over to see some of the more permanent artworks too:

  1. Thoughtful Girl
  2. Upside-Down Girl/Ernest Zacharevic’s Backbend Girl
  3. Malayan Tiger
  4. Swans
  5. Traffic Cone Boy
  6. Woman Looking Up & Fly Swatting Guy
  7. Fox Lady


Read more: Kek Lok Si Temple – If You Only Have Time For 1 Temple In Penang, Let It Be This One!


Art Lane Penang

Much like what she did for China House, Narelle McMurtrie (an Australian who’s a restaurateur in Penang) transformed this once abandoned alley at 127 Lebuh Pantai into a public art gallery!

Art Lane Penang
Art Lane Penang – photo credits to tommyzhu.tz (Instagram)

The inspiring walkway is not far from Ernest Zacharevic’s “Little Children on a Bicycle”.

A Turtle Emerging From The Wall At Art Lane Penang
A Turtle Emerging From The Wall At Art Lane Penang – photo credits to sendalexstuff (Instagram)

Location: 199, Lebuh Victoria, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang

Opening Hours: Daily 9am–7pm

Note: To keep the standard of the paintings up, any plans for future paintings must now first be submitted to China House for review.

Read more: Penang Itinerary: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Penang Trip


Balik Pulau Street Art

On the other side of Penang island (an hour’s drive from George Town) in the rural town of Balik Pulau are even more phenomenal Penang street art!

A handful of them are by Yulia Volchkova!

1. Roti Man

Previously the site of Ernest Zachaveric’s faded Silversmith and across from a school, SJK(C) Sacred Heart in Balik Pulau:

Is now a gigantic portrait of a Muniandy, a legendary kaya bread seller who’s been in business for 30 years!

Artist: Andhar A. Samah

2. Hakka Dancing Girl

Yulia Volchkova painted this portrait of a Hakka girl named Pang Yi Chuen that she saw a traditional dance performance at George Town. Fitting tribute to the dominating Hakka community in Balik Pulau!

Artist: Yulia Volchkova

Hakka Dancing Girl By Yulia Volchkova At Balik Pulau, Penang
Hakka Dancing Girl By Yulia Volchkova At Balik Pulau, Penang – photo credits to street_art_hunting (Instagram)

3. The Silat Master

Following the theme of portraits:

This mural is of Johari Oma, a master of Silat. Which is a traditional form of martial arts hailing from Malaysian and Indonesia.

Artist: Yulia Volchkova

The Silat Master By Yulia Volchkova At Balik Pulau, Penang
The Silat Master By Yulia Volchkova At Balik Pulau, Penang – photo credits to len_j_p (Instagram)

4. Old Fisherman

The old fisherman in question is Yeoh Choon Seng from the nearby fishing village, Teluk Kumbar. He is pictured mending fishing nets in this mural.

Artist: Yulia Volchkova

5. Rubber Tapping

Rubber gloves are a major export from Malaysia. This particular mural shows how latex is collected at rubber plantations which are prevalent in Malaysia.

Artist: Yulia Volchkova

Rubber Tapping By Yulia Volchkova Art Balik Pulau, Penang
Rubber Tapping By Yulia Volchkova Art Balik Pulau, Penang – photo credits to yangbaiyun (Instagram)

Read more: Penang Hill – Must-Visit Penang Attraction With Panoramic Views (Complete Guide)


Shipping Container Art

As part of a series “Penang Place”:

10 impressive container installations made for the Penang Container Art Festival (PICAF) 2020 will be around from January to end of May 2020.

They were painted by 12 artists from many countries – Malaysia, Russia, Ukraine, The Netherlands and Canada.

Utilizing containers as high as 12m stacked either vertically or horizontally!

You can find them at these 5 locations:

1. Dataran Pemuda Merdaka, Butterworth

Penang’s Fisherman

Artist: Judith de Leeuw (Denmark)

Penang's Fisherman By Judith de Leeuw At Padang Bandaran Dataran Pemuda At Butterworth
Penang’s Fisherman By Judith de Leeuw At Padang Bandaran Dataran Pemuda At Butterworth – photo credits to dickieten (Instagram)

Mencanting Batik (Batik Painting)

Artists: Abdulrashade (Penang) and Andharas (Malacca)

Mencanting Batik (Batik Painting) By Local Artists, Abdulrashade and Andharas At Butterworth
Mencanting Batik (Batik Painting) By Local Artists, Abdulrashade and Andharas At Butterworth – photo credits to dickieten (Instagram)

2. Prangin Mall, George Town

The Trishaw Rider

Artist: Sasha Korban (Ukraine)

The Trishaw Rider By Sasha Korban (Ukraine) - One of The Container Art Installations For Penang Container Art Festival (PICAF) 2020
The Trishaw Rider By Sasha Korban (Ukraine) – One of The Container Art Installations For Penang Container Art Festival (PICAF) 2020 – photo credits to cakechemistry (Instagram)

Tribute to the late Chuah Thean Teng

Artist: Bibichun (Penang)

Tribute to the late Chuah Thean Teng (Father Of Batik In Malaysia) By Bibichun At Prangin Mall, George Town
Tribute to the late Chuah Thean Teng (Father Of Batik In Malaysia) By Bibichun At Prangin Mall, George Town – photo credits to schutters.anita (Instagram)

3. Karpal Singh Drive, Jelutong

Hope for the Future

Artist: Yulia Volchkova (Russia)

Hope For The Future By Yulia Volchkova (Russia) - One of The Container Art Installations For Penang Container Art Festival (PICAF) 2020
Hope For The Future By Yulia Volchkova (Russia) – photo credits to cakechemistry (Instagram)

(Unnamed)

Artist: Kenji Chai (Sabah)

A Mural By Artist Kenji Chai From Sandakan - One of The Container Art Installations For Penang Container Art Festival (PICAF) 2020
A Mural By Artist Kenji Chai From Sandakan – photo credits to cakechemistry (Instagram)

4. Kampung Terang, Balik Pulau

The Joy of Harvest

Artists: Leonard Siaw and Aries Kong / Jagung (Both from Sarawak)

The Joy Of Harvest By Leonard Siaw And Aries Kong Or Jagung (Both From Sarawak) - A Container Art Installation For Penang Container Art Festival (PICAF) 2020
The Joy Of Harvest By Leonard Siaw And Aries Kong Or Jagung (Both From Sarawak) – photo credits to studiolengx (Instagram)

Once at Balik Pulau’s Street Market

Artist: Marat Danilyan (Russia)

Once at Balik Pulau’s Street Market By Marat Danilyan (Russia) - A Container Art Installation For Penang Container Art Festival (PICAF) 2020
Once at Balik Pulau’s Street Market By Marat Danilyan (Russia) – photo credits to studiolengx (Instagram)

5. Aspen Vision City, Batu Kawan

Offshore

Artist: Emmanuel Jarus (Canada)

Offshore At Aspen Central Island Park, Batu Kawan, Penang
Offshore At Aspen Central Island Park, Batu Kawan, Penang – photo credits to picafpenang (Instagram)

Connection

Artist: Caryn Koh (Kuala Lumpur)

Connection By Caryn Koh At Aspen Central Island Park, Batu Kawan, Penang
Connection By Caryn Koh At Aspen Central Island Park, Batu Kawan, Penang – photo credits to cindytye1819 (Instagram)

Read more: 15 Best Hotels In Penang For An Unforgettable Stay


Getting To Penang Street Art

Need some help locating these paintings?

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Further reading:


Conclusion

Penang street art is impressive in terms of quantity and quality! It’s not surprising to see folks line up too take photos of the murals by Ernest Zacharevic!

See them for yourself as you wander around George Town! The reach of Penang street art extends as far as Balik Pulau too!

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