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.
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."
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