If you think that only art galleries are the places to go to enjoy the artsy-fartsy lifestyle in Malaysia, then you are gravely wrong. Around Kuala Lumpur and beyond, there are countless places and locations you can go to enjoy the arts and culture of the country. You can be at the mall, at the parks, a residential area or just along some streets and you can be really close to these wonders. You only need to be more observant or easier still, let us tell you where.
This refers to the more symmetrical arts of architecture. You will be spoilt for choice whether it is classical, pre-war buildings you like or the most modern and contemporary designs. The city of Putrajaya is one place you can go where you will be welcomed by modern bridges and world-class buildings. Among the spots that you should look at include:
- The Ministry Of Finance (MoF building)
- The Palace of Justice
- Menara KBS
- Wisma Sumber Asli – Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Building
- The 28 Boulevard
- The Millennium Monument
- Putrajaya International Convention Centre or PICC
- Kelab Tasik Putrajaya
- The Floating Mosque
There are many cafes which takes old and pre-war buildings being converted into artsy cafes. This includes:
- ChinaHouse – In Penang, this café has an art gallery together with its restaurant, bar and a library.
- Aku Café & Gallery – Located in Chinatown in Jalan Panggong, you get the cool and rustic feel amidst the artwork and aromatic coffee here
- Calanthe Café – This café is located in Melaka with artworks used as decorative items along Jonker Street.
- Khizanat – What makes this café in Ipoh so interesting is it huge wall that is made up of doodles and artwork from its guests
Street art, otherwise known as graffiti can be very mesmerizing especially when they are done with taste and class. Malaysia of late has been a huge canvas for street artists since Lithuanian mural artist Ernest Zacharevic showcased his works along the streets of Penang. These days, street art can be seen at most tourists attractions. If you are around these cities, try to find them.
- Georgetown, Penang – It is here that Ernest Zacharevic was commissioned to paint 6 murals during the 2012 Georgetown Culture Festival. Since then, just about anyone who visits the city has taken a picture of any of these paintings.
- Kuching, Sarawak – It seems that not only Penang is seen with Zacharevic’s art where his Orangutan series are seen along the streets in Kuching as well
- Melaka – The historical city is filled with street art and you can spot them the moment you step into Jonker Walk. If you take the river cruise, you will surely see countless others.
- Klang Valley – Take note of the paintings along Jalan Geraja (Ernest Zacharevic), at the Pasar Seni LRT Station, Jalan Raja chulan (Anokayer and Yumz who painted Bangunan Yee Seng), Seksyen 2 in Shah Alam (by students of UiTM and Universiti Selangor), Jalan Pudu by Kenji Chai, Laman Seni in Shah Alam and SS2, Petaling Jaya
There are many shopping malls around Malaysia that hosts art exhibitions, some of which are permanently designed to give you that artsy feeling. In fact, there are some that are specially dedicated to promote Malaysian art such as Publika Solaris Dutamas. This mall by itself is a huge art gallery. The benches that you sit on are designed and made by renowned artists. Within the mall, you will find art galleries and outlets that are operated by artists themselves.
And then, there is Central Market. Housing a lot of arts and crafts, this is where you can see live demonstration by Malaysian artists who will be painting portraits and others while you browse through their artworks. The gigantic Wau arch that greets you at the front entrance is an art wonder by itself.
Indulge in festivals
There is no better way to get involved in Malaysian arts and culture but to attend one of the exciting festivals that come around throughout the year. This includes:
- Damansara International Arts Festival – Held in July, it was once called the DPac Arts Festival and has been running for a few years now involving mostly performance and visual arts
- Rainforest Fringe Festival & Rainforest World Music Festival – An exciting event that comes around each year in Kuching, it attracts both local and foreign performers here
- The Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival – Held in August in Kuala Lumpur, this is where more than 300 events are organized which is part of the collaboration between KLPac and the Yayasan Sime Darby.
- George Town Festival – Held in Penang, this is perhaps the most anticipated show that brings together artists from across the world.
- The KL International Arts Festival – Combines all types of arts and cultural shows and events held in September around Kuala Lumpur
- The Kuala Lumpur Experimental Film, Video and Music Festival – Known in short as KLEX, it is held in November and has been run for almost 10 years now.
- Melaka Art and Performance Festival (MAPFest) – This festival is held in November in Melaka which covers a wide range of events and shows
- Urbanscapes – An annual affair that brings together fashion, culture, visual arts and a lot of performances.
So there you have it, art can be seen and experienced everywhere when you look close enough and not be confined only within art galleries and spaces. From the parks to the buildings, malls to the bridges, check them out and be immersed in the rich heritage of Malaysian art. Do you have any other places that you have seen and would like to recommend?