Urban art has come a long way from its days of infamy as signs of defiance or rebellion in otherwise rigid societies. But urban art is more than just colourful paintings and murals – street art originated as an expression against societal norms, often using thought-provoking imagery and messages to get people to reflect on the current state of society.
Intentionally or otherwise, these early deviants shaped a form of contemporary art that reminds us of the creativity that will always shine through the urbanisation of cities. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting street art installations in Asia that provide perfect photo ops and backdrops for photographers.
Kampong Glam, Singapore
A shophouse above a small bar is transformed into the ultimate canvas, but at a different angle than you’d expect. The whole piece is best seen diagonally from across the street
This next image brings the shophouse to life, with clever use of symmetry. You’ll find a lot of graffiti art along this alley and others around Singapore’s Arab quarter.
Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Somewhere on a wall in Penang, two kids play on a swing. Notice how the use of 3D objects and a 2D painting creates depth, while the elated looks on the children’s faces contrast the partially ruined wall.
Georgetown is widely known as hipster central. Street art dots the neighbourhood, with clever use of fixtures to create multi-dimensional pieces. You’ll see the same concept in the next image. Is the bicycle real, or painted?
Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A street artist paints realistic portraits of famous people and buyers on the street. Catching him with his latest pieces in a row at sunset makes for a great photo op. (Don’t forget to ask for permission first!)
At first glance, you see a little girl standing amongst amateurish graffiti flowers. Is she really there, though?
Binondo, Manila, Philippines
A fresh take on street art, the traditional lanterns form a bespoke pattern that looks like floating, wrapped sweets.
Notice how the photographer downplayed everything around the art on the wall for contrast and selected a subject who is seemingly unaware of the beauty behind.
You don’t need to understand Hindi to know what this means. Satirical street art is a common sight in India.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Even printed posters aren’t spared. This artist makes clever use of a colourful background to leave their mark on, giving it the vibe of a mural.
You never know when a piece might disappear, transform into a new one or get destroyed by urban development. Always have your camera handy, because the writing’s on the wall.