By: Peihua Goh
The loosening of laws regulating street art and the emergence of specially designated areas set aside for people to paint legally has provided an exciting opportunity for a creative bunch of up-and-coming artists. Many of these artists also obtain permission from private estate owners to paint on designated walls, while others are commissioned to lend colour and character to otherwise monotonous walls.
Exhibitions and festivals, such as the well-known Singapore Street Art Festival, have sought to increase knowledge and appreciation of this alternative art form, and street artists were widely commissioned to commemorate Singapore’s rich history as part of the SG50 project.
Can’t wait to get started on the hunt for street art? From Kampong Glam to Little India, join us in a discovery of what’s out there.
Along Victoria Street, between Jalan Klapa and Jalan Pisang
Even someone who doesn’t love street art is likely to have spied these iconic murals by street-art sensation Ernest “Zach” Zacharevic (arguably Asia’s Banksy, minus the anonymity). Initially rising to fame on account of his street art in Penang, the Lithuanian-born artist often depicts children engaged in innocent playtime activities. His work has a quirky and nostalgic appeal that adds colour to Singapore’s urban landscape. Around the corner, check out local artist Yip Yew Chong’s remarkable work Coffee Story at Sultan Gate. Commissioned by Academy Roastery Café, it depicts the history of coffee-making in Singapore.
Haji Lane has long been synonymous with quirky and eclectic murals that add to the quaint, old-world charm of its colourful and authentic shophouses. Here you’ll find art by ZincNiteCrew, a collective of local and international artists, including a larger-than-life mural by Colombian-born artist Didier Jaba Mathieu, who also works as a digital painter and concept artist. To round out your visit, look for pieces by artistic duo Sheryo and The Yok. Sheryo is a Brooklyn-based Singaporean who explores the human psyche through surrealist imagery, while Australian-born Yok’s work is heavily influenced by the comics and skateboarding graphics of his childhood.
40 Everton Road
Self-taught local artist Yip Yew Chong was inspired by stumbling upon the murals of Ernest Zacharevic. “I thought I could attempt to paint murals in my country too, Singapore-style,” he says. Like Zach’s art, Yip’s sentimental works have captured many hearts with their nostalgic glimpses into the past. His first two murals, Provision Shop and Amah and Barber, were painted as symbols of the area’s historic conservation. “Since then, almost all the requests I’ve received have been to paint heritage-themed murals,” he says. Look around to see if you can spot another of Zach’s pieces, Style Wars, in Everitt Road.
Little India, Rowell Road
Bustling Little India is home to a striking mural, Light in Little India, by American artist Miles “Mac” MacGregor. His work is easily recognisable, with a distinct usage of ripple-like contour lines to depict lifelike human faces. Providing an interesting contrast is Green Goblins by Saigon-born artist Tyke Witnes, now based in California. Witnes grew up inspired by youth subcultures like skateboarding and graffiti.
Little India, Buffalo Road
Also in Little India, the Tekka Centre has undergone a colourful transformation thanks to collaborative works by one of Singapore’s pioneering street artists, TraseOne, and Australian Regan Tamanui. Commissioned in conjunction with the Australian High Commission as part of the SG50 celebrations, the eye-catching murals of cricket and traditional Indian dance are as vibrant as the Indian culture and heritage that surrounds them.
Amoy Street Food Centre
Much of the allure of Singapore’s street art is its preservation of heritage and culture, as city walls are transformed into bright canvases. A brilliant fusion of the old and the new, Amoy Street is lined with nostalgic murals portraying the hawker centres, street food stalls and shophouses of yesteryear. Look out for the iconic Samsui Lady by local artist Muhammad Azlan Ramlan. His style, which combines graffiti spray paint with Western fine art techniques, is steadily expanding the boundaries of street art in Singapore.
222+51 Waterloo Street
This former site of the Catholic High School has been transformed into a buzzing art hub. Inspired by the colourful history of Bras Basah, a series of six door-panel murals depict nostalgic memories from the 1960s, incorporating scenes of daily life and national landmarks long lost to redevelopment. Given the current focus on heritage and culture, it’s no surprise that the murals are by Yip Yew Chong and his friend and fellow local artist Yuen Kum Cheong.
Also: Check out a mural painted at Tiong Bahru wet market by Melbourne artist Makatron as part of the Australian High Commission’s SG50 project, which saw Aussie street artists painting in heartland locations.