Artist Of Famous 'Kids On Bicycle' Mural In Penang Regrets Turning Street Into A Circus

Ernest Zacharevic is contemplating painting over the mural, but thinks it is too late for that.

The artist behind Penang's popular 'Kids On Bicycle' mural, Ernest Zacharevic, recently wrote a post sharing his thoughts on the mural and his part in it

Zacharevic shared his thoughts about the mural in an Instagram post on Tuesday, 2 July.

"The fading kids on bike are still there, the people are still lining up for pictures, but today is not a regular day at Armenian Street," he wrote.

The London-trained Lithuanian artist was commissioned to paint the mural by the Penang Municipal Council in 2012, according to Hotels.com.

Ernest Zacharevic with one of his murals in Ipoh.

Image via Mei Mei Chu/SAYS

In the post, the artist mused over how much Armenian Street has changed over the years since he moved there

"The street has not been the same as it used to [be] when I first moved there," Zacharevic wrote.

"[A] quiet heritage street with few local residents offering antiques or RM6 haircut on a ground floor of their family home has been replace (sic) with souvenir shops, restaurants, and all kind of insta-friendly quickly consumable concept stores to satisfy ever increasing traffic of holiday goers looking for 'authentic Penang experience'."

Zacharevic also said he could not hide his joy that one "quickly consumable concept store" had been demolished by the council that morning

The building allegedly had no proper building permits for such a construction and did not cooperate with the council to address the issue, he said.

"As much as I feel for the business owners who put their money and effort to open this shop, I can't hide the joy of seeing council actually acting on its promises and enforcing the regulations that they established," he continued.

"This part of Georgetown is a Unesco Heritage, and it has been threatened with the removal from Unesco list due to failure to protect its culture, architecture, and the community," he added.

Lastly, Zacharevic blames himself and his work for turning the street into a hotspot for overtourism

"Myself and many others blame my work for Armenian Street being a centre of tourist route in Penang and honestly I've been contemplating simply painting over it in hopes to put an end to that circus," the post read.

"But I think the time where it would make any difference has passed. You can barely see the artwork anymore but people are still lining up there. And if not 'Kids On Bicycle', people will line up for something else."

The artist added that at the end of the day, it is not art that contributes to the overdevelopment of an area.

"It's something to be strictly regulated especially in culturally fragile places like Georgetown. We can only hope that what happen (sic) today (2 July) will make business owners think twice before [they] open another bubble tea shop or 3D art museum in this town."

Read his full post here:

View this post on Instagram

The fading kids on bike are still there, the people are still linning up for pictures, but today is not a regular day at Armenian Street. The steet has not been the same as it used to when I first moved there, quiet heritage street with few local residents offering antiques or 6RM haircut on a ground floor of their family home has been replace with souvenir shops, restaurants, and all kind of insta friendly quickly consumable concept stores to satisfy ever increasing traffic of holiday goers looking for 'authentic penang experiance'. One of those had been torn to ground this morning, just weeks since its grand opening. Not exactly sure of reasons but local goss says they had no proper building permits for such a construction and did not cooperate with council to address that. As much as I feel for the business owners who put their money and effort to open this shop I can't hide the joy of seeing council actually acting on its promises and enforcing the regulations that they established. It looks brutal but I don't think there is a polite way of demolishing a building. This part of Georgetown is a unesco haritage, and it has been threatened with the removal from unesco list due to failure to protect its culture, architecture and the community. Myself and many others blame my work for Armenian Street being a center of tourist route in Penang and honestly I've been contemplating of simply painting over it in hopes to put an end to that circus. But I think the time where it would make any difference has passed. You can barely see the artwork anymore but people are still lining up there. And if not kids on bicycle people will line up for something else. End of the day art does not issue construction permits, sell entire row of heritage houses to foreign investors, give out business licenses, docking permits to cruise boats or opens new flight routes. It's something to be strickly regulated especially in culturaly fragile places like Georgetown. We can only hope that what happen today will make business owners think twice before thay open another bubble tea shop or 3d art museum in this town. #penang #georgetown #gentrificationsucks

A post shared by Ernest Zacharevic (@ernestzacharevic) on

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