Born in ’70s New York, street art has since evolved from its humble origins. Gone are the days where it's seen as illegal vandalism. Instead, this worldwide movement is celebrated on social media. Locally, street art adds vibrancy to our neighbourhoods and events like the Aliwal Urban Art Festival and Culture Cartel commission exclusive murals by Singapore’s top artists. These are some that tag and spray bare white walls with colour, turning them (and our city) into works of art.
The founder of urban art collective RSCLS, Zul Othman – better known as Zero – is responsible for most of the murals around the Bugis-Bras Basah district. He portrays aspects of the Malay community with a touch of vintage flair.
Making the city his canvas since 1999, Anthony Chong is no stranger to the urban art scene. With a spray can in hand, the artist often mixes elements of Chinese culture, identity, dialect and mythology into his masterpieces.
Responsible for the massive monochromatic mural that decorates the façade of The Singapura Club at Haji Lane, Azlan Ramlan combines the tools of spray painting with the technicalities of realism, surrealism and cubism.
What do you get when you merge two originators with diverse styles and backgrounds? Answer: Ink & Clog. They use calculated geometric patterns to create visuals that showcase a cultural environment.
What started out as a medium of self-expression has since become an obsession for Desmond Shen. From all his linear tagging in bright, eye-catching hues, you can easily see that the artist’s love for graffiti stems from his appreciation of hip-hop culture.
The Zinc Nite Crew’s founder – otherwise known as Rozaimie Sahbi – happens to be a pioneering graffiti writer who helped elevate the street art scene in Singapore in the late 1990s. You've probably seen one of his pieces at the Aliwal Arts Centre or the Somerset Skate Park. He taps onto pop culture for ideas for his bold creations. Head over to Haji Lane for his latest works, which combine alphabets and batik.
Other artists turning blank walls into art
You've probably seen (and snapped) his life-size heritage murals at Tiong Bahru, Everton Park, Amoy Street and more. Inspired by his memories of Old Singapore, Yip Yew Chong has painted over 30 murals, mostly relating to scenes of Singapore’s bygone era. A wanderlust at heart, the artist captures his experiences through photos and videos which he then weaves them into sketches and paintings, translating both sights and sounds into murals.
Art is always fun with unconventional twists and Tiffany Yao knows just how to do it. The young artist combines a juxtaposition of ideas in her practice where elements of realism are created alongside those of surrealism, and traditional methods are used with the contemporary. By using her art to uncover the hidden beauty in daily life, she has a number of works under her belt in the commercial art and design world.
Take a stroll down Little India and don't forget to look up for Speak Cryptic's black and white flowers and flying petals along Kerbau Road. Mainly dabbling in monochromatic hues, the visual artist's – also known as Farizwan Fajari – works are usually inspired by his own observations on current affairs in and around Singapore. He has also been developing a set of characters for his art over the past 13 years in which he applies them to various narratives and forms including paintings, drawings and even live performances.