Lithuanian artist brings interactive monkeys to town

KUCHING: And it’s up!

After much anticipation Ernest Zacharevic’s latest work at India Street here is completed, with perhaps two more murals to come.

For his first work in Sarawak, Zacharevic, who is from Lithuania, has chosen one of the largest old walls in the history quarter of the capital.

The artist has introduced nine orangutans to the city centre, eight painted to look as if they are being wheeled about in a barrow; another, a baby orangutan swinging from a pipe.

True to Zacharevic’s style, both elements in the mural are “interactive”.

In the first, an actual wheel- barrow has been sliced in half and secured onto the wall. It allows members of the public to take selfies while holding onto the barrow’s arm.

For the baby orangutan, Zacharevic painted over a nail on the wall that enables people to hang items from its hand.

(Yesterday, the artist hung a packet of kopi-o-peng.)

Immediate reactions have been positive and varied. Within hours, hundreds of selfies with Zacharevic’s art have already been uploaded

Some have called the work a gift that is both cute and playful.

“Thanks Ernest Zacharevic! Love it, love it!!!” said Rozi Shahmat on Facebook.

Others see a deeper meaning.

“Painting the orangutans is good but saving the orangutans from their homes being demolished by deforestation is even better and is vital!” posted Angeline LY Lim.

Calls for better conservation in the heritage area have also been made.

“It’s a piece of art that we all shall protect and love it,” wrote Billy Kidman.

Humourous remarks have also been made.

“He should repaint the city cat statue,” said Sandy Borneo.

Zacharevic, 27, who landed here on Friday and will depart Thursday, has not spoken to the media on record.

Nonetheless, he has confirmed a second mural will be painted today, but without revealing where.

“He might even do a third one. We are not sure yet. We don’t even know how the second one will be like.

“He’s kept it all a secret,” said Elysia Chua, a designer with Spago Property Sdn Bhd, which sponsors the project.

“Three is the limit we think. He probably doesn’t have enough time to do more than that,” she added.

Spago personnel contacted the Pui family about two weeks ago. They are owners of a family-run trading store of about 70 years at India Street.

Eileen Pui was told a foreigner might want to paint her wall, and after that she should not repaint for at least two years.

Strange as the request might have sounded, the moment she learnt it was Zacharevic, she said “yes” immediately.

“My main concern now is that vandals won’t come and destroy it.”

Her nephew Marcus, whose favourite Zacharevic work is the bicycle piece in Penang, said he hoped Zacharevic would paint more murals around town.

“I hope he could paint hornbills for example at places like the Waterfront, Main Bazaar or the Carpenter Street area where there are a lot of tourists,” he said.

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