[Edit-Grayson: This February the Mumora team traveled to Penang, Malaysia to check out the first ever exhibition of internationally acclaimed Lithuanian street artist, Ernest Zachaveric.]
Walking through the side streets of Penang’s Georgetown, subtle glimpses of childhood can be spotted in energetic hues of nostalgia. At times a cluster of people gather in an alleyway and stare at a patch of the wall where layers of concrete and paint are peeling. Nature is creeping through the cracks in the foundation, and at the first sign of a crowd it becomes evident that a little piece of Ernest Zacharevic’s magic is captured on one of these old Penang walls.
There is a type of delight in walking through the streets and finding Ernest’s characteristic paintings of siblings riding a bike or a little boy with a pet monster. And there is even more delight in stumbling into his first solo exhibit at the Hin Bus Depot.
Naturally a crowd has already gathered at the entrance of the show where a neon sign reads “Art is rubbish is Art”.
The title itself is reflective of the themes embedded in the works on display inside the old depot and across the walls of the depots outside courtyard. Many of the visitors are busy embracing the works and frantically taking photos of the little girl in a blue dress with garbage bag balloons or the seated man who has been painted on classical old blinds.
Perhaps these visitors are so enchanted by the works themselves that they overlook the questions, the meanings, and the value of these extremely original pieces.
These works are delicate in their dealings with the characters that populate the streets of Penang and illustrate the notions of childhood, imagination, urbanization, and a sense of joy, all made available to those who catch a glimpse of the artist’s work while wandering around the island. In fact, it is very interesting that Ernest’s art is on display in a gallery as opposed to spread out across the city on side streets, odd corners, and the side of buildings.
This transformation of public work being taken into more enclosed spaces also begs the question of what ideas this art was meant to spark.
Wandering through the exhibit and discovering the various works created by Ernest for the show proves that he is able to turn rubbish into art and in the process demonstrates to the cynics amongst us that art is not rubbish after all, because these works have a tangible and yet undetermined value. Moreover, for those with a more critical eye he is able to subtly exude a sense of imagination and adventure into his works, thus making us realize that at times we truly lack the vision and freedom that many of his characters naturally embody.
While many will descend upon the show in order to see his works through a camera lens and capture themselves standing beside his pieces, others will leave with a slightly more optimistic idea of what art is and will unknowingly begin to question what it all means. For this reason, Ernest’s work has an impressive and lasting impression. It will be interesting to see how the artists work will evolve and expand after his first solo exhibit in Penang.