George Town Street Art in Penang

After the food, the George Town street art in Penang, is one of the most compelling and enjoyable aspects of a visit. It’s free, it’s cultural, and it’s fun! The street art is scattered throughout George Town, on major thoroughfares, down small alleys, and sometimes even inside businesses.

George Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, and the following year the city council initiated a project called Marking George Town to help generate awareness of the history of the streets. This project featured caricatures constructed of welded iron, that are scattered throughout George Town and generally are specific commentaries on the particular street, building or immediate neighborhood in which they are located.

Following on the success of that project, Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic was then commissioned in 20012 to create Mirror George Town, a series of murals. These murals often take advantage of specific aspects of the architecture around them (windows, doors, etc) and incorporate sculptural elements as well. The murals have attracted widespread attention and have become a destination themselves.

Other artists have added their own contributions to the vibrant street art, some in an official capacity, and others independently. The line between graffiti and sanctioned street art can get rather blurry here. In addition to the above two, the other major series 101 Lost Kittens is a collection of 12 cat-related aimed to foster awareness of stray animals.

There are many free maps available from hotels, cafés and shops around George Town that have many of the most famous pieces marked, and some feature a walking tour around one or more of the series. I hate following tours and itineraries, so we tackled them in our typical flâneur fashion, aimlessly wandering the streets and discovering them on our own. To me, there is far more enjoyment this way; following a map robs you of the excitement and surprise of rounding a corner or heading down an alley and suddenly stumbling upon an iconic mural.

George Town Street Murals

Penang Street Art Boat Man
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Huge Indian boat man mural

Penang Street Art Kids on Bike
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“Kids on Bicycle,” one of the most famous murals

Penang Street Art Kids on Bike at Night
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“Kids on Bicycle” at night

Penang Street Art Fat Heads
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“Grandma and Grandson” mural

Penang Street Art Kid on Bike
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Boy on motorcycle mural

Penang Street Art Bruce Lee
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Bruce Lee kicking some cat ass

Penang Street Art Basketball
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Basketball mural

Penang Street Art Minion
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There are also a number of minions pieces

Penang Street Art Swing Kids
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Kids on a swing street art

Penang Street Art Cat Balls
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One of the 101 Lost Kittens series

Marking George Town Iron Caricatures

"Cheating Husband" - iron frames caricature
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“Cheating Husband” – iron frames caricature

"Cow & Fish" - iron frames caricature
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“Cow & Fish” – iron frames caricature

Iron frames caricature and minion
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Iron frames caricature and minion

"Procession" iron frames caricature
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“Procession” iron frames caricature

Iron frames caricature
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Iron frames caricature

Penang Street Art Teach Hokkien
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Mural and welded iron caricature

Graffiti or Art? Why Make a Distinction?

Penang Street Art Ballerina and Triangle Head
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Ballerina and Triangle Head. I’m not sure why, but these two really struck me and were my favorite. I can’t find any information on them; they seem to be anonymous, largely unknown pieces.

Penang Street Art Triangle Head
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Triangle head. I love this for some reason. Contact me if you know anything about it.

Penang Street Art Dog Steak
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Dog and steak graffiti

Penang Street Art Angel Sculptures
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Angel sculptures

Penang Street Art Snowman
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Snowman street art

Penang Street Art Shrine
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Chinese shrine, graffiti commentary, and street art

Penang Street Art Pipe Elephant
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Pipe elephant street art